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Petersen Family History
This is a patronymic surname in that it derives from the personal name Peter. The suffix 's' placed at the end therefore changes the meaning to 'son of Peter'.
It became popular in Britain due to its associations with the Bible and with St Peter the apostle, and became more evident during the 12 century as a given name after pilgrims and the Crusader knights returned from the Holy Land.
The name derives from the Greek word 'petros', meaning a rock, and was also popular in Germany and the Netherlands. Variations of the surname include Peterson and Petersen.
In England, hereditary surnames such as Peters and Peterson became established by around 1400, but in Wales fixed such surnames did not become evident until much later, between the 16th and 19th centuries depending on where in the country the families lived. It is not among the most common of Welsh patronymic surnames, but it appears mostly on the early records relating to the Welsh counties of Flintshire, Monmouthshire and, to a lesser extent, Montgomeryshire.
British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning (1903) by Henry Barber
Surnames of the United Kingdom (1912) by Henry Harrison
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