Surnames in Finland

by , under, Church Records, Finnish, My Family History, Online Research, Surnames, Vital Records

Today, I accessed the wiki page on labeled “Finland Surnames.” It was quite helpful as it very clearly explained the surname practices in Western Finland versus those in Eastern Finland.

Eastern and western Finland have different naming traditions. Both naming customs date back to the earliest written sources. There was frequent overlap of these practices in both areas.

All Finns had patronymic names. If they also had a farm name or a family surname, the patronymic name may or may not have been written out. The same person may have used a patronymic name in one record and a farm or family surname in another record.

Following is a brief description of various types of Finnish surnames according to geographic (east-west) distributions:

Western Finland (Ahvenanmaa, Häme, Kymi, Turku-Pori, Uusimaa, and Vaasa Counties with the exception of certain parishes). Surnames changed from generation to generation according to the Scandinavian patronymic naming customs used in Sweden.

Eastern Finland (Kuopio, Lappi, Mikkeli, Oulu, and Viipuri Counties with the exception of certain parishes). Surnames did not change from generation to generation.

For those not familiar with Finland’s history, it was a part of Sweden for centuries. Here is a capsule history found here:

The Finns’ repeated raids on the Scandinavian coast impelled Eric IX, the Swedish king, to conquer the country in 1157. It was made a part of the Swedish kingdom and converted to Christianity. By 1809 the whole of Finland was conquered by Alexander I of Russia, who set up Finland as a grand duchy.

My grandparents, Evert and Ida Maria (Hytönen) Huuskonen, emigrated from Kuopio County in 1902 and 1903 respectively, and both their families used family surnames. But church records I have seen often included patronymic names as well the family surnames. I consider myself lucky that my having to work with patronymic surname system to hunt down ancestors is limited to only a very few Finnish relatives.

The wiki article also explains about the endings that are characteristic of Finnish family surnames.

Family Names. The surnames used in eastern Finland are family surnames, which means that they were used in a family from generation to generation. They represent some of the earliest family surnames of Europe and most of them indicate relationship or common origin, although this cannot always be proved because of few sources.

Family surnames have certain types of endings: -nen or -ainen/-äinen. For example, Huuskonen and Liimatainen are family surnames. In earlier records, these names were found with other endings, such as Huuskoin and Liimatain. Early records also used a feminine variation: -tar. For example, Huuskotar and Liimatar both have the feminine ending.

Obviously I found this to be very interesting because of the use of my grandfather’s family surname–Huuskonen–as an example. And yes, I have seen in early church records the Huuskoin version of our surname.

It is also interesting that I have a Liimatainen connection as well: Emma Liimatainen, b 1858 d 1931, married Gabriel Huuskonen b 1859 d1950, my 1st cousin 2X removed.

Finally, let me point out that I found Emma’s baptismal record online on–another example of Ancestry’s growing coverage of Finnish records. I found it here.


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