Some names from 16th century Kaunas: 1522-1591.

by Rebecca Lucas (ffride wlffsdotter)

© 2017; all rights reserved
last updated 22nd October, 2017


  1. Introduction
  2. Personal Names
  3. Patterns of Bynames
  4. Extracted Data (sorted by locative byname)
  5. References


The city of Kaunas is modernly located in central Lithuania, at the confluence of the Nemunas and Neris rivers. The 16th century was a boom-time for Kaunas and its inland port, with people moving from the countryside into the city. According to Ragauskaitė, is believed that the population of Kaunas was around 5 - 6.5 thousand people by the middle of the 16th century.

These names all come from the article:

Alma Ragauskaitė. 2006. "Vietovardinės kilmės asmenvardžiai ir prievardžiai XVI a. Kauno aktų knygose" Baltu filoloģija 15(1-2); 81-94.

Ragauskaitė extracted one hundred and five names in total, illustrates the various ways locative bynames could be recorded in 16th century Kaunas. Despite being an extremely small sample, given the population of the city at the time, her article clearly illustrates that vernacular Lithuanian bynames were in use.

The various legal records referred to by Ragauskaitė date between 1522 and 1591, and were written in Ruthenian, Polish, Latin and occasionally German. These scribes probably did not know any Lithuanian themselves, yet it appears they still attempted to preserve the Lithuanian pronunciation of locative bynames.

A note on grammar and abbreviations

Please Note: An asterisk (*) indicates that I have placed the name into the nominative case. Inflected forms are in italics, and if used as a personal name would, need to be transformed into the nominative case first. Where the name was recorded in Ruthenian, I have transliterated the name using the Library of Congress system for Belarusian, which appears in [square brackets].

For added complexity, some of the Polish names do not seem to be entirely following standardised Polish grammar. In particular, there are some masculine names that appear to have formed the genitive with -ia, instead of the expected -a. This ending is, however, is possible in Ruthenian (and in modern Belarusian (Marchant, 2004)) when a masculine name ends in -ь. If I have placed the name into the nominative case, following Ruthenian grammar, this is indicated by a doubled asterisk (**).

Abbreviations: acc. = accusative, dat. = dative, gen. = genitive, instr. = instrumental, nom. = nominative.


As noted above, I have used the Library of Congress system for Belarusian, I have included the Cyrillic forms, to better differntiate between the letter and the digraph both transliterated as "kh" (see below), as well as for those who may wish to use another transliteration system.
The following table does not include all the letters of the modern Belarusian alphabet, as some do not appear in the recorded names.
Cyrillic LoC Cyrillic LoC
А, а A, a О, о O, o
Б, б B, b П, п P, p
В, в V, v Р, р R, r
Г, г H, h С, с S, s
Д, д D, d Т, т T, t
Е, е E, e У, у U, u
Ж, ж Zh, zh Ф, ф F, f
З, з Z, z Х, х Kh, kh
И, и Ī, ī Ц, ц Ts, ts
Її Ïï Ч, ч Ch, ch
І, і I, i Ш, ш Sh, sh
Й, й Ĭ, ĭ Щ, щ Shch, shch
К, к K, k Ь, ь ' (soft sign)
Л, л L, l Ю, ю Iu, iu
М, м M, m Я, я Ia, ia
Н, н N, n
Note: The digraph "кг"/"kh" has a different sound to "х"/"kh" - it sounds like "g". So the locative byname Довкгиникос is transliterated as Dovkhīnīkos, but pronounced Dovgīnīkos (Woolhiser and Viačorka, 2012).