Slave Names. Watch

Pinkisk
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People of African Descent living in Western Europe often use family names that were forced on theirs families by their slave masters during slavery. Their original names were African. This practice was used by slave owners to identify the slaves as the property of the family after whom they were named. It was also used to dehumanise these people and deny them their true identity.

Are you of African descent? How do you feel about using a slave name if you are still using one? If you don't fall in this category of people, how do you feel about it? Do you feel it's right/wrong? Would you carry on using a slave name if you were put in this position?

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Decahedron
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People who still hold "slave names" can have them changed by deed poll if they so wish.

If I were in their position however I would keep the name, it is to me important to remember my history and that can be lost by changing your name.

My family name goes back nearly 1000 years to the invasion of Ireland by the Normans (1171), that is the earliest point at which records could be found. My family were peasants under subjugation for the majority of their history, many joined the clergy because that was one of the few ways to rise out of poverty in Ireland. One individual bearing my name now has a bridge named after her and was venerated by the Pope.

Even if your history isn't desirable I still feel it is an important part of what brought you to where you are today.
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Vinny C
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think I'd change my name too if my parents called me Kunta Kinte
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fallen_acorns
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if you know or can find out what your family name was before slavery - then I can see a reason for changing it back.

If your not sure, and its just a case of - family name you've had for 2-300 years, or pick a random african family name.... then it seems less clear-cut a thing to do.
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Pinkisk
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(Original post by Decahedron)
People who still hold "slave names" can have them changed by deed poll if they so wish.

If I were in their position however I would keep the name, it is to me important to remember my history and that can be lost by changing your name.

My family name goes back nearly 1000 years to the invasion of Ireland by the Normans (1171), that is the earliest point at which records could be found. My family were peasants under subjugation for the majority of their history, many joined the clergy because that was one of the few ways to rise out of poverty in Ireland. One individual bearing my name now has a bridge named after her and was venerated by the Pope.

Even if your history isn't desirable I still feel it is an important part of what brought you to where you are today.
They can have their names changed very easily. If I was in this position I would change my family name. Keeping such names I think trivialises the crimes of slavery. I think it perpetuates them. I think such names, rob their people their true identity. Its one of those crimes of slavery that are still carrying on to this day. I think they need to be addressed.

The only thing that would make me think twice about changing my slave name would be the fact that the name though it was forced on my ancestors, was passed down to me by my parents and I love my parents and their family...but I don't think that this is justification good enough for me to keep the name. I would definitely change my slave name if I had one.

(Original post by Vinny C)
think I'd change my name too if my parents called me Kunta Kinte
African names are awesome. When translated into English some of them may sound a bit wrong...but I'm sure the same applies to all names when translated to other languages. I am sure if English names were translated into the native tung of some of the African countries they would sound wrong too.
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Vinny C
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(Original post by Pinkisk)
They can have their names changed very easily. If I was in this position I would change my family name because I think the disavantages of keeping it far outweigh the advantages of keep it. Keeping such names I think trivialises the crimes of slavery. I think it perpetuates them. I think such names, rob their people their true identity. Its one of those crimes of slavery that are still carrying on to this day. I think they need to be addressed.

The only thing that would make me think twice about changing my slave name would be the fact that the name though it was forced on my ancestors, was passed down to me by my parents and I love my parents and their family...but I don't think that this is justification good enough for me to keep the name. I would definitely change my slave name if I had one.


African names are awesome. When translated into English some of them may sound a bit wrong...but I'm sure the same applies to all names when translated to other languages. I am sure if English names were translated into the native tung of some of the African countries they would sound wrong too.
Like in alien nation... why do they keep sniggering? Er... well... your name, Sykes. What about it? Well... er...
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Vinny C
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(Original post by fallen_acorns)
if you know or can find out what your family name was before slavery - then I can see a reason for changing it back.

If your not sure, and its just a case of - family name you've had for 2-300 years, or pick a random african family name.... then it seems less clear-cut a thing to do.
Most women would quote their maiden name then, lol
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gjd800
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(Original post by Decahedron)
People who still hold "slave names" can have them changed by deed poll if they so wish.

If I were in their position however I would keep the name, it is to me important to remember my history and that can be lost by changing your name.

My family name goes back nearly 1000 years to the invasion of Ireland by the Normans (1171), that is the earliest point at which records could be found. My family were peasants under subjugation for the majority of their history, many joined the clergy because that was one of the few ways to rise out of poverty in Ireland. One individual bearing my name now has a bridge named after her and was venerated by the Pope.

Even if your history isn't desirable I still feel it is an important part of what brought you to where you are today.
That is excellent. I struggled to get further back then 1790-1800 with any of my family aside from the small offshoot that are Scots.
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Doonesbury
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(Original post by Decahedron)
People who still hold "slave names" can have them changed by deed poll if they so wish.

If I were in their position however I would keep the name, it is to me important to remember my history and that can be lost by changing your name.

My family name goes back nearly 1000 years to the invasion of Ireland by the Normans (1171), that is the earliest point at which records could be found. My family were peasants under subjugation for the majority of their history, many joined the clergy because that was one of the few ways to rise out of poverty in Ireland. One individual bearing my name now has a bridge named after her and was venerated by the Pope.

Even if your history isn't desirable I still feel it is an important part of what brought you to where you are today.
Early Irish records are extremely hard to trace, and a lot of genealogical data was lost in the fire at the GPO in 1922. I'm impressed you've been able to establish a direct link so far back.

I can't get back beyond the early 1700s

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DJKL
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Early Irish records are extremely hard to trace, and a lot of genealogical data was lost in the fire at the GPO in 1922. I'm impressed you've been able to establish a direct link so far back.

I can't get back beyond the early 1700s

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In England the 17th century civil war lost a lot of records. I have my father's family back to 1677 but then hit a wall as cannot reliably find that ancestor's parents- I have their names but that is it.
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gjd800
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Early Irish records are extremely hard to trace, and a lot of genealogical data was lost in the fire at the GPO in 1922. I'm impressed you've been able to establish a direct link so far back.

I can't get back beyond the early 1700s

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Yeah, I reckon if I had just slightly more info (parishes would do it) then I could get further back. Not given up just yet but the odds are not in my favour!
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Decahedron
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(Original post by gjd800)
That is excellent. I struggled to get further back then 1790-1800 with any of my family aside from the small offshoot that are Scots.
(Original post by Doonesbury)
Early Irish records are extremely hard to trace, and a lot of genealogical data was lost in the fire at the GPO in 1922. I'm impressed you've been able to establish a direct link so far back.

I can't get back beyond the early 1700s

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I didn't do the research but that side of the family only left their home city in the 1940s to come to the UK.

There is obviously a dark spot as far as records go for about 400 years. However the name was traced back to a Norman nobleman who was recorded to have been involved in the invasion of southern Ireland in the 12th century.
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DJKL
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(Original post by Decahedron)
I didn't do the research but that side of the family only left their home city in the 1940s to come to the UK.

There is obviously a dark spot as far as records go for about 400 years. However the name was traced back to a Norman nobleman who was recorded to have been involved in the invasion of southern Ireland in the 12th century.
Beware names, people may well have taken the name of the estates where they possibly laboured rather than any family connection, I have a surname that appears to indicate a place but I doubt I have any connection to the family owning the estate who go back to the Norman Conquest, for all I know my ancestors run back to the Saxons not their Norman Lords and masters, following names that way can lead one astray.
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Doonesbury
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(Original post by Decahedron)
I didn't do the research but that side of the family only left their home city in the 1940s to come to the UK.

There is obviously a dark spot as far as records go for about 400 years. However the name was traced back to a Norman nobleman who was recorded to have been involved in the invasion of southern Ireland in the 12th century.
Interesting. So do you have a documented line back through each generation all the way through those "dark" 400 years.
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Decahedron
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(Original post by Doonesbury)
Interesting. So do you have a documented line back through each generation all the way through those "dark" 400 years.
Not really they were peasants and the limited documentation was what could be gained from the church mainly those who joined the clergy. The family didn't escape poverty till the 1930s.

(Original post by DJKL)
Beware names, people may well have taken the name of the estates where they possibly laboured rather than any family connection, I have a surname that appears to indicate a place but I doubt I have any connection to the family owning the estate who go back to the Norman Conquest, for all I know my ancestors run back to the Saxons not their Norman Lords and masters, following names that way can lead one astray.
But that is kind of the point of the thread, they would likely have taken the name they laboured under. However through genetic testing the Norman line has been proven.
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Pinkisk
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This is interesting. It seems this tactic of imposing names on minorities isn't isolated to the black community here. It seems to have affected white minority groups as well. I didn't know this.

Names denote ownership. When I put my name on something, on my bag, on my mobile phone etc. I am saying these things belong to me, but names don't just denote property, they also denote function. An african American named washington 300 years ago was the property of the Washington family whose function, whose sole purpose for existence, was to serve the Washington family. To carry that name, even many centuries after the fact, is so wrong. It's one of the many crimes of slavery whose affects carry on to this day.
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DJKL
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(Original post by Pinkisk)
This is interesting. It seems this tactic of imposing names on minorities isn't isolated to the black community here. It seems to have affected white minority groups as well. I didn't know this.

Names denote ownership. When I put my name on something, on my bag, on my mobile phone etc. I am saying these things belong to me, but names don't just denote property, they also denote function. An africans American named washing 300 years ago was the property of the Washington family whose function, whose sole purpose for existence, was to serve the Washington family. To carry that name, even many centuries after the fact, is so wrong. It's one of the many crimes of slavery whose affects carry on to this day.
Less imposed as adopted I would suggest. Also note number of names that arise from occupations, Miller, Weaver , Fletcher etc.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/familyh...names_01.shtml
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Notoriety
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(Original post by Pinkisk)
This is interesting. It seems this tactic of imposing names on minorities isn't isolated to the black community here. It seems to have affected white minority groups as well. I didn't know this.

Names denote ownership. When I put my name on something, on my bag, on my mobile phone etc. I am saying these things belong to me, but names don't just denote property, they also denote function. An africans American named washing 300 years ago was the property of the Washington family whose function, whose sole purpose for existence, was to serve the Washington family. To carry that name, even many centuries after the fact, is so wrong. It's one of the many crimes of slavery whose affects carry on to this day.
We know that slaves were marked with the owner's name. Do we know that freed slaves didn't abandon the owner's name but adopt their own Anglicised names? There is a huge gap between slavery and the modern day, which is currently unaccounted for.
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ThomH97
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If you don't like your name, you can change it.

Your surname doesn't mean you're anyone's property. If you want it to mean that, then you're going to have some victimhood complex. That slave owner is long dead and has no hold over you or your ancestors who are also long dead. Yes they (potentially) robbed you of tracing your family back as far as you might have, but guessing some random African name isn't going to help that and will likely confuse things further for your descendants.
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Arran90
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(Original post by Pinkisk)
People of African Descent living in Western Europe often use family names that were forced on theirs families by their slave masters during slavery. Their original names were African. This practice was used by slave owners to identify the slaves as the property of the family after whom they were named. It was also used to dehumanise these people and deny them their true identity.
I have previously raised this question

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho....php?t=5445576

and mentioned that I get the impression that some strange type of Stockholm syndrome occurred amongst the slave communities that was passed down to their descendants.

Jamaicans living in Britain seem to be culturally 'trapped' in a confused state. They won't go backwards to their African roots but, despite their surnames and the fact that many are Christians, they won't culturally assimilate into the British middle classes. In fact, it's the lower class younger white British folk who are embracing Jamaican culture and lifestyle.
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