If the surname "Putnam" started out as a French name, what is your best guess as to the original name?

+6 votes
I have a man named Putnam who I am fairly certain was born in Quebec and very likely altered his original surname when he migrated to Vermont. My son-in-law's tree is full of French Canadians whose names changed (Americanized/Anglicized) after they settled in New York or Vermont. Most are easier to figure out.

Yes, I do realize that it is possible that he didn't change his name and he needn't necessarily be French just because he was born in Quebec but something is telling me this is not the case.

So, if you had to take a guess, what might it have been?
WikiTree profile: George Putnam
in Genealogy Help by Deb Durham G2G6 Pilot (852k points)

3 Answers

+7 votes

Several sources on the net indicate that name is of English origin.  Example below:

Last name: Putnam

SDB Popularity ranking: 3316

This name is of English locational origin from the villages of Puttenham in Hertfordshire or Surrey. The Hertfordshire village is more likely, as it is earlier, being recorded as Puteham in the famous Domesday Book of 1086 and as Putenham in the 1212 Court Rolls of that county. Puttenham in Surrey is first recorded as Puteham in 1199. The name in both cases derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal nickname Putta meaning "Kite" (a bird of prey), plus "ham", a homestead. Hence,"Putta's ham". The surname is first recorded at the beginning of the 13th Century, (see below), and has appeared in several local slang forms including Puttnam, Putnam and the dialectally transposed Putman!. Early examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic church registers include Edward Putman or Putnam in the Oxford University Register of 1621, whilst on April 23rd 1753, the marriage of Elizabeth Puttnam and Richard Stevens is recorded in the register of Tring, Hertfordshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph de Puteham. which was dated 1205, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Buckinghamshire. This was during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. 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.

Read more: http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Putnam#ixzz4up4GDKew

by Chris Hoyt G2G6 Pilot (614k points)
That wasn't really what I was asking. I want to know if anyone has a clue whether there is a similar sounding French surname that may have resulted in the adoption of this name instead of a more difficult to pronounce (for an American) name.

Thanks for the info though. Appreciated!
+5 votes

I just looked at letter P in a list of 1000s of French surnames. None lend themselves to be turned into Putnam. The few that might, if you used your imagination, are:

by Jim Parish G2G6 Pilot (127k points)
I once helped someone on Ancestry track down her "Smith" line. Another bunch of Vermonters who originated in Canada. I finally located them with some creative searching. Their name was some very long and difficult to pronounce French name. "Smith" was easier so they used that instead.

So far I have Poireau who became Poro, Tetreault, who became Tetreau, who became Tatro, Gregoire who became Gregor, who became Gregory, Dupuis who became Dupree, and the list goes on. lol

Thanks for the input. I'll  take a look at some of those. One of them might just break down the wall!
They're not always obvious, I have an Ethier family who became Hickey on crossing the border. I don't know if it was the phonetics or that they knew of Irish Hickey families in Quebec.
+4 votes
There are a few Putman in Quebec for 1850s ( George, John )
by Guy Constantineau G2G6 Pilot (339k points)

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