"If you can't get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance"
-George Bernard Shaw

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fitzgerald>>What's in a Name, Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture

This is my first post for Genabloggers from facebook. The title here says it all!

The name Fitzgerald (also spelled FitzGerald and several other variations) mean son of Gerald.
Some snippets I have found on various internet sites about the history of the name follow:

FitzGerald Surname Origin(Origin Normandy French) The son of Gerald, Fitz, a son, Gerald (Teutonic), all-surpassing, excellent. This ancient and honorable family is traced from Otho or Other, a Baron in Italy, descended from the Grand Dukes of Tuscany. Walter, son of Otho, came into England with William the Conqueror, and afterward settled in Ireland. Maurice FitzGerald assisted Richard Strongbow in the conquest of that kingdom.

Source: An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their Derivation and Import; Arthur, William, M.A.; New York, NY: Sheldon, Blake, Bleeker & CO., 1857.

Fitzgerald is one of the many first or middle names that was originally a surname. Like many surnames threatened with extinction within family trees and histories (mostly through marriage on the women’s sides of the families), it was adapted for first name use in order to keep it visible. As a surname, Fitzgerald’s origins are almost exclusively British and French and possibly trace back to French Norman conquest/English times. There is evidence is was also present in Ireland with roots beyond the isle of Britain to German (Teutonic) areas. Interestingly, all four origins (English, French, Irish, German) translate into the same definition: son of Gerald. This naming style was common and transferred beyond any one Gerald or any one son. In other words, being a Fitzgerald could mean literally being the son of someone named Gerald or being the son’s son or any line of grandsons from that Gerald. Further, there was not necessarily any one noteworthy or famous Gerald. It could be used like “Jr.” or “III” is today to identify the ancestors of someone with the same name. [1]


Fitzgerald Name Meaning and History
Irish: Anglo-Norman French patronymic from the personal name Gerald (see Garrett). The name was formed by the addition of the Anglo-Norman French prefix fi(t)z ‘son of’ (Latin filius) to the personal name. The Gaelicized form Mac Gearailt is common in the Gaelic-speaking areas of West Kerry.

Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-508137-4

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