This Ukrainian and Baltic regional surname has similarities with the English "Black" in that it is a descriptive nickname applied to the colour of the holders hair. Deriving from "pote", meaning "black", the suffix is found in the job-descriptive "potemkin", a name originally given to a night watchman or at least one who worked in the dark! A more unusual version is Potempa, as in this case. The origin is more of a nickname in that it was given to one who played the part of the devil in medieval theatres. In the case of Potapczuk, the name contains an explicit patronymic ending in "(p)cz", i.e., son of Pota, plus the genitive suffix "uk", which when associated with a given name, as in this case, produces an extra patronymic to give "the son of the son of Pota". All the Baltic region has strong associations with Poland and again the Polish influence is seen in this name. Unfortunately the region will be many years recovering from the evil influence of the former Communist region who prevented research and registration amongst the remaining Church Registers. The earliest name form is probably as shown below. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Anna Potacka, which was dated 1521, born at Kieleckiego, Potok, Poland, during the reign of Sigismund 1, Duke of Poland, 1506 - 1548. 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.
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