One of the many challenges of researching the Jacobs Family has been their names.  

Here are a few things to note:

Lebanese Names

  • In Lebanon, most names were Christian prior to 1870, and the Christian names could also be European, which are translated into Arabic.  For example, in Lebanon, Peter becomes Boutros- George becomes Girgis, Bolus becomes Paul. 
  • NOTE:  Bolus is a name we commonly see when Mary is asked for her father’s name 
  • Women had the choice of taking their husband’s surnames or keeping their maiden names.
  • In Middle Eastern countries under the former Ottoman Empire, such as Lebanon/Syria, each child was given a first name but most people in the Middle East had no surname until 1932. Also the father’s given name was given as a middle name such as Yusef Girgis, meaning Yusef (Joseph), son of George. It came in handy in the days before surnames were required. Now it’s used as a middle name.
  • Arabic-speaking and Turkic-speaking countries didn’t use surnames until after the end of the Ottoman Empire. Then in Lebanon and Syria many Christians took as their surnames European or Biblical first male names such as the Arabic versions of George, Jacob, Thomas, and Peter which were in Arabic: Girgis, Yacoub, Toumas, and Boutros. 
  • Many Syrian and Lebanese families, particularly Christians, after 1932 took similar names such as Peter Jacobs or George Thomas
  • When surnames in Lebanon became a requirement, you have very popular names such as Peter George Khoury in America being Boutros Girgis Khouri in Lebanon or Syria when translated into Arabic.
  • In the Levant, daughters have a first name and their father’s given name meaning “daughter of Yusef” or Ayah Yusef. Translated into English at Ellis Island, it could have become Aya Joseph.





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