USAGE: English, German, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Hungarian, Slovak, Biblical, Ancient Greek (Latinized), Greek Mythology (Latinized)
OTHER SCRIPTS: Αλεξανδρος (Ancient Greek)
PRONOUNCED: al-əg-ZAN-dər (English), ah-lek-SAHN-der (German), ah-lək-SAHN-dər (Dutch)
Latinized form of the Greek name Αλεξανδρος (Alexandros), which meant “defending men” from Greek αλεξω (alexo) “to defend, help” and ανηρ (aner) “man” (genitive ανδρος). In Greek mythology this was another name of the hero Paris, and it also belongs to several characters in the New Testament. However, the most famous bearer was Alexander the Great, King of Macedon. In the 4th century BC he built a huge empire out of Greece, Egypt, Persia, and parts of India. Due to his fame, and later medieval tales involving him, use of his name spread throughout Europe.
The name has been used by kings of Scotland, Poland and Yugoslavia, emperors of Russia, and eight popes. Other notable bearers include English poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744), American statesman Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), Scottish-Canadian explorer Sir Alexander MacKenzie (1764-1820), Russian poet Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), and Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), the Scottish-Canadian-American inventor of the telephone.
USAGE: English, French, German, Czech, Dutch, Ancient Germanic
PRONOUNCED: RICH-ərd (English), ree-SHAHR (French), RIKH-ahrt (German)
Means “brave power”, derived from the Germanic elements ric “power, rule” and hard “brave, hardy”. The Normans introduced this name to Britain, and it has been very common there since that time. It was borne by three kings of England including Richard I the Lionheart, leader of the Third Crusade in the 12th century. Famous bearers include two German opera composers, Richard Wagner (1813-1883) and Richard Strauss (1864-1949), as well as British explorer Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890) and American musician Little Richard (1920-).
USAGE: Norman, French, Latin
This interesting and unusual surname, of Norman origin, with variant spellings Pettifer, Pettifor, Pettyfar, Pettafor, Pottiphar, Pudephar etc., derives from the old French “pedefer” i.e., “pied de fer” meaning “iron foot”, ultimately from the late Latin “pes de ferro”, and was originally given as a nickname to a soldier who was particularly good at marching, or perhaps to someone who had lost a foot, and has an artificial one made of iron fitted. The name was widespread, and sometimes used as a nickname alone: Piedefer, the 1185 “Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire”, and Pie de Fer, the 1186 “Pipe Rolls of Norfolk”. Early recordings of the surname include: John Pedefer, the Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire, dated 1190; William Petifer, (Sussex 1327), and William Petefer, (Huntingdonshire in 1392).
In 1548 another William Petefer or Petyfre was entered in the “Oxford University Register”. On February 8th 1790, Hannah Pettyfer and John Bateman were married in Saint Leonards, Shoreditch, London and on August 30th 1801 Sarah Ann Pettyfer, an infant was christened in St. Giles, Cripplegate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Herbertus Pedesferri, which was dated circa 1090, “The Old English Byname Register”, during the reign of King William 11, nicknamed, “Rufus”, 1087 – 1100. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.