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Name Game

Newly engaged Icelando-phile Jared asked me a very good question in yesterday's comments, and I thought I'd go ahead and address it here.

Q: why doesn't your dad's name end in "son"? my-mother-in-law-to-be's last name is thorisdottir.

Well, Jared, here's the scoop:

A: My father's given name is Þórir, or Thorir. Just like your fiancée's grandfather, i.e. your mother-in-law-to-be's father. My father's father's name was Páll, so my father was christened Þórir Pálsson. His mother, Steinnun Sighvatsdóttir, never married Páll, but my father was still his son, hence "Páls-son." When my father was nine, his mother married an American who worked out at the Naval Base at Keflavík, Stanley Roff. He adopted my father and gave him the family name of Roff (which, incidentally, used to be a much longer Russian name that was shortened at Ellis Island when Stanley's forfathers fled the Revolution).

So actually I am "Þóris-dóttir" or "Daughter of Thorir" just like your future mother-in-law, but I go with the family name Roff for convenience, as I have dual citizenship and all my US papers us that name.
My mother is Ásthildur Brynjólfsdóttir here in Iceland but goes by Asta Roff in the States. My sister is Addy Roff in the US, Steinnun Ásta Þórisdóttir in Iceland. My daughter's father's name is Jóhann, though, so her full name is Valentína Jóhannsdóttir. No Roff

Got that?

Here's a link to the main page of my online family tree, if you're more curious. Actually, using this online service, called Íslendingabók, I along with most Icelanders, can trace my ancestry directly back to 830 a.d., to one Eirikur "The White" Högnason, one of Iceland's first settlers as well as Eyvindur Bjarnasson, born around 810 a.d. and married to Rafarta Kjarvalsdóttir, daughter of Irish king Kjarval. Oh, and Leifur Eiríksson, or Leif Eriksson "the Lucky." And actually pretty much everyone who came here on that first boat. Trippy, huh?

By the way, the above picture has no connection. It's just a good shot of the inside of Fry's Electronic SuperStore, the one in San Jose with the Mayan theme. A computer lover's dream...


Anonymous said...


Your forgot to mention that in a typical Icelandic fashion, you and your father are 5th cousins. Þorvarður, which is the 6th blue square in the top row, and is your father´s greatgreat grandfather is the brother of my great grandmother, Rannveig. Rannveig is the 5th red dot in the row second from the top. Þorvaður and Rannveig´s parents Ólafur and Kristín are the 9 set of blue square/red dot group in the top row.
I also beleive that your greatgreatgrandma Rannveig and greatgreatgrandfather Sveinbjörn died in the same small boat accident when their boat capsized on the way from Reykjavík to Akranes.
Welcome to Icelandic genealogy everyone!

jared said...

do you guys know vaka thorisdottir? she is married to hardar hardarson i think is his name. they are super nice, aunt and uncle to be living in reykjavik. it seems as though everyone knows everyone else there. when we were out about town there and in akureyri it seems like everyone was saying hi and such.

Iceland Eyes said...

Jared, I can trace a common ancestor to a Vaka Þórisdóttir, born 1970, back eight generations, or to the last 1700's. So we're not too related.

(By the way, the first comment is from my mom, armchair geneologist extraordinaire!)

Graham Jones said...

OK...I think I got it....I'm a Jones so things don't get very complicated when it comes to names.

Graham Jones said...

OK...I think I got it....I'm a Jones so things don't get very complicated when it comes to names.

Lennart said...

You mention that you have dual citizenship, but the US does not recognize dual citizenship with very few exceptions, Israel being the only one I know of, although all European Union countries do. So I don't think that the US would necessarily recognize your Icelandic passport. Iceland would, however, recognize your US passport. Just curious.