TZORTZOPOULOS - history of the origin of the surname.
There is a powerful tradition amongst various Tzortzopouli soi that their original progenitor was British - either English or Scottish. In Australia (with both the Hlihlis and Kapatanios soi, and England, (through my cousin George Haralambos Tzortzopoulos, London), the common variant of the story is:
"According to Kytherian popular belief - the 6 or 7 Tzortzopoulos clans of Karavas, including a number of whose members emigrated to America, are originally descended from Frangoulis who migrated to Kythera 250 years ago. He came from the village of Karavas in Northern Cyprus, now under Turkish control: and when he arrived in Kythera, he named present day Karavas after his own village. The fact that these are the only two villages called Karavas in the world, tends to lend credence to this account of events.
In view of the fact that Frangoulis’ country of origin was Cyprus, the Kytherians gave him the name of Kyprios. At some point, Frangoulis decided to give his daughter in marriage to someone by the name of George, who was probably from Scotland. The pet name for a George in Northern England and Scotland is Geordie. The British, of course, controlled the 7 Ionian Islands, of which Kythera is a part, at this time, and continued to do so until 1864.
Because Frangoulis was the first resident of Karavas, he owned all the land there, and gave 80% of it to his daughter as a dowry. As a result, present day Karavas consists of a series of fields bordering on each other, one of which is always owned by a member of the Kyprios family.
The Kytherians found it difficult to pronounce the name George, or Geordie, and thus converted it to Tzortzopoulos. Thus is my own family, by Grandmother’s brother, my great-uncle, was called George and not Giorgios. The remaining surnames common to Karavas, such as Koroneos, Kritharis, Patrikios, Passakos, Souris, etc, are not of the same origin as Tzortzopoulos".
The American variant of the same story was told to me recently by Harris George(opoulos), Baltimore, USA. To the best of my knowledge the two myths of the Tzortzopoulos name origin arose independently of each other. Harris was told this variant by his older brother Ted, (who died in 2003).
"From 1814 through 1864, the Ionian Islands were under British rule, and, under the British Homestead Act, any British subject who would voluntarily go to a crown colony to farm would be given a tract of land, or, if he wished to establish a trade, he would be given a stipend to get started. One such person was a young Britisher who chose to settle in Karava, Kythera, to farm. He was a tall man, who, when asked what his name was, said, "George." The native Greeks could not say "George" as we do in English; instead, they began to call him "Tsortsi."
Not only did the Kytherians call this Britisher "Tsortsi," they also gave him a nickname, which was "Tsortska." The stretch of land given to him lay at the base of a mountain (which he also received) named "Kourvouli." He became popular in the village of Karava (the mountain was just outside of Karava), and he married a Greek girl (my brother Ted was never able to learn the name of the girl he married).
The information Ted got was from a half-sister of my father's, Thea Eleni, who was 85 years old when my brother met her husband (Vretos) and her in 1933 when my parents (with Ted) visited Kythera. Thea Eleni was the child of our grandfather, Theodore Peter George, who was the son of the Britisher.
The Britisher apparently had four sons (each of whom established a separate paratsoukle (family nickname)):
1. Koumoudura: I know nothing about this family.
2. Tzortzaka: The Britisher's son was named George George, and, in Baltimore, Maryland, I grew up with two families (Menas George and Panayiotis George, both of whose oldest sons were named George C. George (Menas) and George T. George (Panayiotis)).
3. Kourvouli: This is my father's paratsoukli (or nickname). My grandfather, Theodore Peter George, had three wives, my father being the last child of his third wife. My father was born in 1888. My father's name was Dimitri (James) Theodore George.
4.Hlihlis: I knew nothing about this family until (..our recent communication).
Everything else I know relates solely to the Kourvouli family. As I said, my grandfather (who died in 1892 when my father was 4 years old) had three wives. He had one daughter (Eleni) by his first wife, had no children by his second, but his third wife (Maria Fratsikakis) had my father's much older brother (Panayiotis), and his three sisters (Stavroula, Meropi and Anastasia). Panayiotis married the sister of the Faros brothers, James and Gregory (both of whom came to establish homes in Baltimore, Maryland), and they remained childless. Anastasia married Aristides Diakopoulos. Stavroula married a man named Panayiotis Souris, who once was a chef in both Paris and New York. Meropi married George Mavroyioryis. My father's mother died when he was 7, and he was raised by his older brother Panayiotis.
In 1933, my father and mother took a trip to Kythera and took their 16 year old son, my brother Ted. For a couple of days, Ted stayed with Thea Eleni, my father's half sister (even though she was 40 years older than my father). Ted remembers that Thea Eleni drank tea (rather than coffee) because, she said, "English blood flows in my veins." Thea Eleni told Ted that her grandfather was English.
Ted also wrote the following: A cousin of ours, Angelo, decided to go to Scandinavia to study their transportation system, since Angelo was involved in the transportation that travels between Pireas and Kythera. While in Scandinavia, he was talking to a young man named McPherson (didn't know his first name), who said to him, "You are from Greece.", to which Angelo said, "Yes I am." McPherson asked where, and Angelo said from the Island of Kythera. McPherson said, "Isn't that strange? You know, I have an ancestor who went to Kythera, and he established a family there. As a matter of fact, he built the lighthouse on that island." Angelo said, "Really? When did he go?" McPherson said, "Oh, sometime in the early 1800s." Angelo asked, "Where did he settle?", to which McPherson said, "He settled in a town called Karava." Surprised, Angelo said, "Well, that's where I'm from." Angelo asked, "What was his name?", to which McPherson said, "His name was George McPherson."
Clearly, this Tzortzopoulo tradition had been transported to both Australia and the USA in a very similar format.
In 2003, Emmanuel Kalligeros published Kytherian Surnames, in Greek. (See Culture, subsection Bibliography, for an overview of the book. Also the introduction to the Names section).
His entry for Tzortzopoulos in that book was:
[Translation by John Stathatos]
Variants: Tzorzopoulos, Zorzopoulos
[Other Derivatives: George, Georgeson].
The surname Tzortzopoulos, which is common in the Karavas region of northern Kythera, is one of those which originated on the island; indeed, we are certain of both its origins and the likely date of its first appearance, something by no means common with Kytherian surnames.
The suffix opoulos, characteristic of surnames in the Peloponnesus, indicates a peloponnesian influence and confirms its derivation from the original root patronymic Koronaios, which is of course itself peloponnesian (q.v.). The 18th century saw a sudden sharp increase in the appearance of new surnames on Kythera; this was probably an effect of the recently improved conditions of life on Kythera, resulting in turn from the relative decline of piratical raids and an abatement of the numerous plagues which used to decimate the island’s population. Under these conditions, certain families spread and increased, resulting in a confusing welter of similar surnames. The Koronaioi, for instance, who had been settled in the Potamos area from the early 16th century, multiplied to a significant extent, and 18th century censuses reveal several families with the same surname in different Potamos parishes, including Panayia Lariotissa, Agia Triad and Agioi Pantes. Some branches of these Koronaioi ended up in Karavas, where they settled towards the end of the 18th century.
The Tzortzopouloi first appear in the census of 1753, which lists the brothers Dimitri, Mina and Micali Zorzopoulo, whose father however is listed as Thodori Coroneo Zorzopoulo. Turning back a few years to the census of 1724, the father of the aforementioned three brothers is recorded as Thodori Coroneo di Zorzi. A quick search through the censuses brings to light a number of individuals with the surname Koronaios and the given name of Tzortzis. The self-evident necessity of distinguishing between them was, by a process which can still be seen in action on Kythera today, the reason for the appearance of Koronaios bynames. This was clearly the period during which the Koronaios family split into branches, from which time date the surnames Tzortzopoulos, Diakopoulos, Mavrogiorgis, Venardos and others still in use today.
A further point worth noting is that the name Minas, which was common at that period among many branches of the Koronaios family, remains so today, and particularly among branches of the Tzortzopouloi – clear evidence of the common origin of both surnames, in view of the fact that baptismal names are repeated steadily over the generations thanks to the rigid habit of naming grandsons after their grandfather.
In view of all the above, and with the invaluable assistance of the published censuses, we can safely determine the original appearance of the surname Tzortzopoulos to have taken place between 1724 and 1753, at which time one branch of the Koronaioi adopt the surname Tzortzopoulos. In the early part of the 20th century a Tzortzopoulos was recorded in the village of Dourianika, obviously descended from the Tzortzopouloi of Karavas. The service of the Myrtidiotissa mentions a certain Dimitrios Tzortzopoulos “from Dourianika”, a merchant in Constance (Konstanz).
The surname is also present among the Kytherian diaspora in Egypt, which was dominated by Karavites. There are many Tzortzopouloi amongst the Kytherian diaspora in Australia and the USA; however, in many cases subsequent generations shortened the surname, usually to Poulos, with the result that it has now become very difficult to ascertain their true origins.
The surname continues to be fairly common on Kythera and in particular the wider Karavas area, while it is often encountered among Kytherians in Athens and Piraeus, including the general secretary of the Greek Parliament and ex-rector of the Economics University, Panayotis Tzortzopoulos.
Panayotis TZORTZOPOULOS, Secretary General of the Hellenic
10021 Athens Telephone: (30) 2 10- 370 8044/5/6.
Fax: (30) 2 10 - 370 7710.
Directeur général, Chambre des Députés,
Telephone: (30) 2 10- 32 24 802.
Fax: (30) 2 10- 33 14 118
The questions I put immediately to Emmanuel Kalligeros were,
a. why do these "British" progenitor origins for Tzortzopoulos exist, and persist?
b. how can we be certain that they have no basis in fact.
Emmanual Kalligeros's response:
"I am replying concerning your surname, but in Greek, [again, translated by John Stathatos], as I wish to be absolutely precise and my English is not good enough for such matters.
I am familiar with the tradition you mention concerning the Tzortzopouloi, but make no mention of it because it does not appear to be based on factual evidence; furthermore, as you will see below, there is confusion with the Kypriou and Kypriadis families. As far as the relationship between Tzortzopoulos and Koronaios mentioned in the book is concerned, the facts are correct and are confirmed by irrefutable evidence derived from the Venetian censuses. Now, if some new and different fact PRIOR to 1753 and 1724 were to arise, I could not know of it on the strength of the evidence available to me. However, all the information in the book is based entirely on hard evidence rather than on family tradition unsupported by documents such as contracts, and you should therefore be in no doubt about the facts up until the date I mention. Regarding KORONAIOS I must [a verb is missing here] the surname in the book.
As far as Karavas is concerned, I have published articles on the subject in the newspaper and given a lecture proving that it was inhabited normally at the end of the 18th century (after 1770). The inhabitants of the village were originally from Potamos and Logothetianika, as well as refugees from the Peloponnesus. These facts have already been confirmed by the testimony of old inhabitants published at the end of the 19th century (I refer to some of this in the bibliography of my book on surnames).
Concerning Frangoulis, Kyprou etc. This information is partly correct, but concerns another surname. Consult the entries for Kyprios and Kypriadis, which have been exhaustively researched and are, I believe, essentially complete. They are descended from one Frangakis (not Frangoulis) who did indeed go to Cyprus, and was referred to as Kyprios upon his return! However, the Tzortzopouloi appeared in Potamos many decades before the Frangakides arrived on Kythera as refugees. I am not aware of the other reports concerning Scotsmen, etc., and until given the opportunity of consulting documentary evidence, I have every reason to include these with family legends such as are common in Kythera (and elsewhere) and are the result of confusions and corruptions of true or half-true stories.
If nevertheless there exists, or there comes to light, evidence which would modify or negate what I have written, you may be certain that I will make use of it, and would be grateful to anyone who brought it to my attention. For the moment, I rest on the results of my fifteen years of research, and believe that the facts concerning the surname TZORTZOPOULOS are correct and sufficient, at least up to 1724 when the surname seems to first appear. I should add that the written “Tzortzis” version of the name Yiorgos was very common on Kythera since the early 17th century, and is often encountered in contracts and other documents of the time. In other words, the presence of undocumented Scotsmen isn’t necessary in order to explain the existence of the Christian name Tzortzis.
Where does that leave someone like myself, and other Tzortzopouli like me, who would prefer to believe the more romantic version of Tzorzopouli origins?
1. The records of births, deaths and marriages in Kythera are very complete. If a British Tzordi ancestor exists, then he should appear in the records. It is thus incumbent on those Tzortzopouli who wish to retain the myth - to find that document, obtain a copy, and to make it public knowledge. An interesting start would be to gain a copy of the entry in census of 1753, "...which lists the brothers Dimitri, Mina and Micali Zorzopoulo, whose father however is listed as Thodori Coroneo Zorzopoulo. Turning back a few years to the census of 1724, the father of the aforementioned three brothers is recorded as Thodori Coroneo di Zorzi".
2. The 1 million drachma question remains unanswered: why did Thodori Coroneo become di Zorzi?......What does di Zorzi mean?
To answer those questions is to really explain the mystery of the origin of the surname - Tzortzopoulos.
[It is easier to explain why his sons, subsequently became Zorzopoulo - "sons of Zorzi"].
Keep in mind that the Italian word for George is Tzortzo, and the Greek word for George is Yeoryi. Why di Zorzi - and not o Yeoryos?
3. One of the attractive elements of the Tzortzopoulos myth is that it explains the origin of the town of Karavas. Although in the Kalligeros exposition, a Frangakis (not Frangoulis) does go to Cyprus, and is referred to as Kyprios upon his return. (I assume that the origin of the name Karavas, for both the northern Cypriot town, and the northern Kytherian town, derives from the word karavi, boat, ie, the Cypriot town was probably a town of boat-builders, originally). The timing of the Cypriot visit by Frang......, seems to be almost exact in both interpretations of events. It would be interesting to obtain an exact date for the naming of the town of Karavas on Kythera. (The date seems to be about 1770 in both accounts).
4. I have never met a Tzortzopoulos who does not ultimately trace his origins to the town of Karavas, Kythera. I would be very interested to hear of Tzortzopoulos who does not trace their origins to Karavas, Kythera.
For the record, and a chance to enter the quiz game, ‘the one million drachma question’, herewith the Coroneos/Tzortzopoulos families resident in the Parish of the Virgin Mary, Lariotissa, Potamos, during the 18th century:
Venetian Census of
Parochia della Madonna a Vila Grande, Distreto Di Potamo
Zorzi Coroneo quondam Micali, aged 82
(ie Zorzi Coroneo, son of the deceased Mick, aged 82)
Pascaliga sua moglie, aged 60
(ie Pascaliga, his wife, aged 60)
Thodori Coroneo di Zorzi, aged 39
(ie Theo Coroneo, son of the living Zorzi, aged 39)
Dimitri suo fio, aged 4
(ie Dimitri, his son, aged 4)
Mina suo fio, aged 1
Cherana sua moglie, aged 25
Manoli Coroneo di Zorzi, aged 37
Elena sua moglie, aged 20
Gligoria sua fia, aged 6.
(ie Gligoria, his daughter, aged 6)
There were 56 separate households in the parish, 20 of which were Coroneo.
[quondam = deceased. di = of. sua moglie = his wife. suo fio/figlio = his son. sua fia/figlia = his daughter.]
Parochia della Madona Largiotisa, Villa Grande, Teretorio Di Potamo
Zorzi Coroneo quondam Nicolo, aged 80
Thodori Coroneo di Zorzi, aged 43
Cherana sua moglie, aged 35
Dimitri suo figlio, aged 7
Mina suo fio, aged ?
Micali suo figliolo, aged 1
Manoli Coroneo di Zorzi, aged 40
Elena sua moglie, aged 30
Zorzi suo fio, aged 2
Gligoria sua fia, aged 6
52 separate housholds, 24 of which were Coroneo.
Parochia della Madona Lariotissa, Distretto Di Potamo
Todorin Coroneo Zorzopullo, aged 78
Cherana sua moglie, aged 68
Dimitri Zorzopullo, aged 38
Erini sua moglie, aged 33
Micali suo figlio, aged 6
Todorin suo figlio, aged 2
Mina Zorzopullo, aged 33
Maria sua figlia (sic), aged 28
Nicolo suo figlio, aged 6
Zorzi suo figlio, aged 2
Micali Zorzopullo, aged 30
Gligoria sua moglie, aged 26
Anastassia sua figlia, aged 1
50 separate households, 16 of which were Coroneo
First appearance of the name Zorzopulo on Kythera.
Other Coroneo families also transforming, eg Coroneo Manolachi and Coroneo Pissanopullas now appear. ('achi' = akis)
Parochia della Beata Vergine Lariotissa nella Villa Grande, Distretto Di Potamo
Todorin Coroneo Zorzopulo, aged 76
Dimitri Zorzopulo di Todorin, aged 46
Erini sua moglie, aged 41
Micali, aged 14
Mina Coroneo Zorzopulo, aged 43
Maria sua moglie, 36
Nicolo suo figlio, 13
Micali Coroneo Zorzopulo quondam Todorin, aged 41
Cherana sua moglie, 36
58 separate households, 26 of which are Coroneo, including Coroneo Manolachi, Coroneo Bello, Coroneo Pissanopulas, Coroneo Stavrianopulo, Coroneo Michalachi, Coroneo Modea
Parochia della Beata Vergine Lariotissa, Distretto Di Potamo
Thorodin Coroneo Zorzopulo, aged 90
Dimitri Coroneo di Thorodin Zorzopulo, aged 54
Irene sua moglie, 49
Mina Coroneo Zorzopulo di Thodorin, aged 51
Marieta sua moglie, 44
Michali Coroneo Zorzopulo di Thorodin, aged 49
Chierana sua moglie, 44
66 separate households, 28 of which are Coroneo, including Coroneo Ghegheri and Coroneo Geracari to add to above.
Parochia della Beata Vergine Lariotissa a Potamo, Distretto Di Potamo
Dimitri Coroneo quondam Thodorin Zorzopulo, aged 56
Eirini sua moglie, 51
Mina Coroneo Zorzopulo, aged 53
Giorgi suo figlio, 22
Dimitri suo figlio, 16
Nicolo Coroneo di Mina Zorzopulo, aged23
Maria sua moglie, 18
Micali Coroneo quondam Thodorin Zorzopulo, aged 51
Chierana sua moglie, aged 46
59 separate households, 24 Coroneo
Parocchia della Beata Vergine Lariotissa Potamo, Distretto Di Potamo
Erini relita quondam Dimitri Zorzopulo, aged 61
(ie Erini, widow of the late Dimitri)
Todorin Coroneo Zorzopulo quondam Dimitri, aged 29
Ellena sua moglie, 25
Dimitri suo figlio, 2
Mina Coroneo Zorzopulo quondam Todorin, aged 63
Nicolo Coroneo Zorzopulo di Mina, aged 33
Maria sua moglie, 28
Crissula sua figlia, 5
Zorzi Coroneo Zorzopulo di Mina, aged 26
Andriana sua moglie, 27
Maria sua figlia, 3
Dimitri Coroneo Zorzopulo di Mina, aged 26
Gligoria sua moglie, 22
Micali Coroneo Zorzopulo quondam Todorin, aged 61
Chierana sua moglie, 56
110 separate households, 28 Coroneo.
Parochia della Beata Vergine Lariotissa a Potamo, Distretto Di Potamo
Irene relicta del quondam Dimitri Zorzopulo, aged 65 (relicta = widow. del = of the)
Gligoria sua figlia, 25
Thodorin Coroneo quondam Dimitri Zorzopulo, aged 33
Ella sua moglie, 29
Mina Coroneo quondam Dimitri Zorzopulo, aged 22
Chierana sua moglie, 20
Mina Coroneo quondam Thodorin Zorzopulo, aged 67
Nicolo Coroneo di Mina Zorzopulo, aged 37
Aurelia sua moglie, 32
Zorzi Coroneo di Mina Zorzopulo, aged 35
Andriana sua moglie, 31
Dimitri Coroneo di Mina Zorzopulo, 30
Gligoria sua moglie, 26
Giorgi suo figlio, 4
Micali Coroneo quondam Thodorin Zorzopulo, 65
Chierana sua moglie, 60
Thodorin Coroneo di Micali Zorzopulo, 25
Maria sua moglie, 22
Vassilichi sua figlia, 2
112 separate households, 31 Coroneo.
Cassimati families appear to have the greatest preponderance of the given name Zorzi, although it was a relatively rare name otherwise.
There were far more Coroneos named Giorgi than Zorzi.
The Coroneo of Lariotissa appear to be the only Kytherian family to have formed a branch with the surname Zorzopulo.
Most Coroneo families resided in the above Parish of the Blessed Virgin, in the Potamos quarter/suburb named Lariotissa.
The Parochia di San Zuanne Battista a Potamo morphed into The Parocchia di San Zuanne a Coronianica sometime between 1772 and 1784. (In 1784: 25 households, 9 of which were Coroneo, but no Zorzopulo)
The Parochia della Beata Vergine Despina a Carava (in the District of Potamos) was created sometime between 1784 and 1788. (1788: 33 households, but no Coroneos or Zorzopulo families)
The first Tzortzopoulos into Karavas would have to be descended from one of the above Lariotissa blokes who went walkabout after 1788.
While the Tzortzopoulos evolved from a Coroneo named Zorzi, who possibly spent some time in Venice at some stage, this doesn’t preclude a Scottish ‘Geordie’ entering the family tree during the British occupation. There's always some basis to family folklore/myths.
Most Tzortzopoulos arrived Aust as Georgopoulos or Poulos, but at least 2 blokes, Peter K and his nephew Peter Stavros, retained the Italian twist to their names:
Peter K. Zorzopoolo, born 1871, landed from San Francisco with Paul Coronaios in 1908, both going directly to Cobar, where apparently Peter already owned a shop. Both allegedly first landed around the turn of the century. It seems Peter owned the cafe which was managed by Paul, although about 1911 Paul went farming locally, while still continuing to oversee the cafe run by various managers over the next few years, one of whom was his nephew Harry Sam Capsanis.
Peter Zorzopoolo had other branches elsewhere, but was apparently hands on at Cobar by 1915, trading as Peters & Co.
Possibly connected was the transient Dimitrios William Pulos, b.1888 in some place called Calavrita, who landed from America 1910 and came direct to Cobar, but only staying 10mths before moving to Sydney.
Peter Stavros Zorzopoolo, b. Aug1891 Pireaus, landed Sep1914, spending 2.5yrs Inverell and 2yrs Gilgandra before coming to Cobar to manage his uncle Peter K. Zorzopoolo’s cafe in Marshall St, trading as Peter & Co. He’s probably the same bloke who married Stamatina Fardouly 1927 Sydney.
By the 1930s Nikolaos and Ioannis Minas Tzortzopoulos from Karavas had the Cobar cafe, trading as Poulos Bros. From the late 1930s Polous & Son appear to have taken the reins to continue the Zorzopoolo presence.
In 1929 Dorothy Poulos of Cobar was a bridesmaid at the Lismore wedding of George Theo Poulos to Zafiro Jim Crethar. George, Nick and Zena Poulos came to Lismore 1915, but while George remained, Nick and Zena disappeared into the woodwork.
Another Zorzie, George Anastasios Zorzopoulos, b. 1907 Alexandria, Egypt, landed 1947 and married Koula Nell Moulos 1949 Sydney. (can’t remember how I know that)