Anthes Family Tree : Surname

Surnames have evolved in modern history and were in general use in Europe by at least the twelfth century. Some early surnames announced the relationship of the child. other common surnames recognised some physical achievement, occupation or status in society or the area of one's birth. Some variations occur though mispelling, mispronunciation, regional language differences or personal preference.

The origin of the surname Anthes is unresearched but it is known to be recorded in Alsace, France, in 1731 and Gross Gerau, Germany in 1550. A possible explanation of the surname may lay in botanic words, of Greek origin, such as anthers, anthus, and anthesis which relates to plants or flower segments. If the surname is derived from this source by association, it may indicate that our earliest ancestor was involved in flower gardening or some horticultural task.

it is interesting that both William James Day Anthes and his father include the christian name Day to precede the surname Anthes. This seems an American peculiarity to perpetuate the d' allied to the surname by reason of the title baron. In the French language, the precedent de is placed before the surname to indicate a noble family, a practice not observed by English nobility. This precedent is similar to the use of von to precede noble German family names.

Where the first letter of the surname in French commences with a vowel, the de is reduced to d' hence, when the title is used, the title and surname is given as d'Anthes. The use of the 'grave' or 'acute' above the letter e of Anthes is a guide to the inflection for pronunciation purposes. it is likely that the name, when used with the title, was pronounced in French similar to either "Dhont-ay" or "Dhahnt" while pronounced without the title as 'Ont-ay' or 'Ahnt'. The German pronunciation is thought to be similar to that used in Australia but perhaps as "Ant-hes" rather than 'An-thes'.

Experience in Australia has shown that many people, unfamiliar with the usual pronunciation, show great imagination in enunciation with preference to extending the last syllable to '-theeze' or ignoring the 'e' as in 'Anths'. Noted entries in Australian birth, death and marriage records list the name variously as 'Authes', 'Anthers' and 'Anthus', which requires care to be taken when researching family information. Written contact by tradespeople, by civil authorities or by friends produce and endless variety of bewildering arrangements of the alphabet for what seems to us a simple though little known surname.