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Surname of 'Posthumus'

Hi there,

My last name of 'Posthumus' hails from the dutch province of Friesland.

In my little bit of digging, I found that there are a small number of 'Posthumus' surnames found in part of Wales, and some of these still have equally Latin sounding first names, but being as this is not at all true of their Friesian counterparts, I doubt there is a real connection to be discovered there.

The Welsh find was interestingly consistent with the character of Posthumus in Shakespeare's ''Cymbeline,'' which also apparently takes place in that part of the British Isles, but I digress.

Far and away the most surnames of ''Posthumus'' are found in families of Friesian origin. It seems to be the only Friesian last name that is not linguistically Friesian. I am aware that it is Latin (or 'dog Latin' as I have seen it described - likely because of the omission of the second 'o' ), meaning ''after death'' and is used in English context today when talking about a person's ''posthumous'' award, recognition, or influence. I also am aware that as a surname it originally indicated the person named was born after the death of his/her father.

What I am curious to know is whether it is a fluke from a well educated Friesian who added a Latin descriptor to his own or someone else's name, and by sheer chance it had sticking power enough to become a surname in his lineage even though such a surname is not to be found anywhere even in the vast Latin world- or whether there is a better reason. Perhaps in Spain, Portugal, Italy, or South America such a name would have been altered to something more resembling modern forms of Spanish, Portuguese or Italian, while in Friesland it was considered a special rather than archaic name-?

I know that surnames in Friesland were virtually non-existent before they became necessary for French taxes under Napolianic rule in 1810, but I have found one person online who sites an ancestor with the name Posthumus, who married a woman in 1740 with the last name of Harkes. This counters the story I heard that someone was being funny by calling themselves ''Posthumus'' for the Napolianic tax collectors, possibly referring to some Lord during the time of Spanish rule 300 odd years earlier.

Can someone shed any more light on this, correct, clarify, or add points of interest?

Michael Posthumus

(Transferred from old LINGUIST List Ask-a-Linguist site)