The Paikins

The surname PAIKIN

It is amazing that the Paikin-name is spelled so uniformly around the world. Amazing because when emigrating the Russian/Jewish names would be transcribed according to the way it was pronounced. And even if the emigrants were literate - in Russian or Yiddish - they would not know how to spell their name in other languages.

And as a rule you usually find various forms of spellings of Jewish names within the same family. Till now I've only encountered five minor variations: Paikin, Paikine, Pajkin, Paykin and Pikin/Piken.

Paikin we have in Argentina, Australia, Denmark, Canada, Israel, Norway, Russia, South Africa & USA.

The Paikine is reasonable enough as it is the French-branch, and without the "e" at the end it would be pronounced something like "Paikaing".

The Pajkin was (as far as I understand) originally Paikin, but changed to Pajkin (maybe because of the pronounciation rules in Norway?).

And then there is only Piken/Pikin - in the USA. And Paikin and Pikin/Piken (to my knowledge) is pronounced the same way. Some of the Pikin/Pikens know for sure that the name was originally spelled Paikin!

But what is much more astonishing is that we find the surname Paikin in sources before the "Name Laws" were passed and a long time before the laws were enforced!

The Jewish population that lived in the territories annexed by Russia at the end of the 18th Century generally did not have surnames, but were listed by their given names and a patronymic.

In 1804 a law was passed that stated that each Jew of the Russian Empire must have or assume a hereditary family name or sobriquet that must be used without any change in all transactions and registers. However, in 1835 a new law (valid until 1917) was passed that stated that each Jew of the Russian Empire must keep forever the hereditary or assumed family name without any change. This indicates that the law of 1804 had not been followed rigorously and that numerous Jews either had not adopted a surname or had changed them once adopted. Such laws were passed in other European countries as well: Austria in 1787; 1805 for Western Galicia; Frankfurt-am-Main 1807; France 1808; Baden 1809; Westphalia 1812; Prussia 1812; Bavaria 1813; Württemberg 1828; Posen (Poznan) 1833 and Saxony 1834.

So either the Paikin ancestors were very law-abiding citizens who adopted a surname as early as 1804 and kept it unchanged - an exception to the rule! OR: They already had a surname, which they had before the above laws were passed and therefore did not have to adopt a surname. It is rare to find family names unchanged and passed on for generations in the beginning of the 19th Century in Russia. We find another such name in the following family history: Stolbov, which has been unchanged from at least 1756!

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Last edited 13.01.2002 by Elsebeth Paikin