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Family History

I have now done research of three of my four grand-parental names: Cytera/Cetera, Suchto/Suchta, and Gutewicz/Gutowicki. The name Dubicki is quite common so I don't envisage doing much work on it.

The Cytera Family and Name

I had until recently thought that the Cytera family name derived from the Greek island Kythera. But my more recent research strongly suggests that it is a spelling corruption of the surname "Cetera" which is somewhat more common in Poland than Cytera by a factor of about ten.

It appears that during the life of my great-grandfather Michał Cytera a spelling corruption took place from Cetera to Cytera.

We don't know when, where and how Michał died, but his widow Maria has the Cetera spelling on the back of the photo of her grave, which initially prompted me to think that was a spelling change from Cytera to Cetera, possibly as a result of illiteracy. However it has always appeared to be impossible to find anyone but Michał's descendants (or their marriage partners) who have this name. I recently found on an ancestry website that people with the name Cetera have linked to others with the name Cytera, strongly suggesting they are the same family. The Ceteras also outnumber the Cyteras considerably and are well spread out through Poland, suggesting a more established name, whereas the Cyteras only exist in Slaskie and Opolskie regions. Note that all three of Michał's sons had the name Cytera which suggests they inherited it from their father. This suggests to me that the change is from Cetera to Cytera and it took place during the life of Michał.

I have yet to find any birth record for Michał Cytera, but if ever do, and I find that he was born Cetera, then it will prove to me that he changed the name, either by accident or design. As the Cetera name has no relationship with the Kythera island (it is not one of the many spelling variants), then for me it would prove once and for all that our name is only coincidentally the same as that of a Greek island.

But doesn't Cetera sound Latin? Yes. There would appear to be a high density of people with this surname in the Calabria and Basilicata regions of Italy, and to a lesser extent in Puglia. However I have as yet found no link with the Polish Ceteras, so at the moment I am treating this as a coincidence. Technically I believe the occurence of this name in two places is "polygenetic".

Another piece of information which recently come to light, is the existence of someone with the name Jan Cytera in 1497. This does not disprove the likelihood that my surname is a recent spelling corruption, but it does suggest that some people might have the name by another root. If anything, I think it undermines the Greek island idea as it is too early for any likely migration.

One day I might decide to undergo genetic ethnicity testing. It might just prove things one way or the other.

Contact me if you would like to see the Cytera family tree.

The Suchto Family and Name

This has been the subject of more research of mine. In recent history we know that a group of siblings, my grandfather included, had a mixture of surnames, either Suchto or Suchta. I am aware of relatives with both names. On the basis of popularity, it would appear that Suchta is more likely to be the original name. You can see this clearly on a Polish family tree website:

Map of people in Poland with surname Suchto

Map of people in Poland with surname Suchta

At the time of writing this map suggests that in Poland alone the Suchtas outnumber the Suchtos about 20 to one.

In terms of the history it would appear that the name has its origins in present-day Belarus, which was Polish territory when my ancestors were born there. I believe it may go further back to the Baltic states of Lithuania/Latvia, and that at least one off-shoot of the family is currently in Lithuania irrespective of this. The oldest record I actually have of a Suchto is of a Margeta Suchto being born in Pielisjärvi in Finland in 1750, which would take things further north still. I have it on authority, though, that Suchto is not a Finnish name, nor is this person's first name.

The Gutewicz Family and Name

I have recently had contact with people in northern France to whom we have proven to be related via one of my grandparents. The name would appear to have undergone a spelling change/corruption to Gutewiez, which is probably why I never found them before. The last face-to-face contact with the two parts of the family was in 1946/7, during demobilisation of the Polish forces.

What is interesting about this name is that it previously existed in two versions, Gutewicz and Gutowicki. Either or both names were used by the same family.

Please feel free to write back with any further information or questions.

Last updated: 6/4/2018