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mazpuke3.GIF (425 bytes)  Estonians


There were in Vidzeme [Livland] province of the Russia Empire 4 apriņķi mainly inhabited by Latvians, and these apriņķi later went to Latvia. The other 5 apriņķi became part of Estonia, because Estonians inhabited there.

So the both ethnicities lived quite close together in the same province. It happened sometimes that some landowners owned manors in both Estonian and Latvian parts of Vidzeme province and moved their serfs from one manor to another, which created  mutual migration. For example, the owner of Rencēni manor F.Sivers (the manor is situated near Valmiera) bought 137 Estonian serfs in 1789./Švābe/

In the papers of church archives, that I have gathered, I have found some documented information on individual Estonians migrating to Valmiera aprinkis in the 19th century. It will be made available here later.

In any case, Estonian names are not rare in the Northern regions of Latvia. I have spent pretty good part of my youth there and remember my 2 classmates (of 12 pupils) in Trapene elementary school - Valge and Kanaleps. Nobody doubted they were Latvians, in spite of the evident Estonian meaning of their names. Valge means white, and Kanaleps, as the boy explained, was spoiled kalanepp - from kala - fish, nepp - snipe. Another example: we had a teacher named Ploomipū (or Ploomipuu in Estonian spelling) in Gaujiena secondary school, and the name sounded quite funny for the schoolchildren (its meaning is plum-tree). Of course, these were not the only names of Estonian origin in the school and in its vicinity.

Another Estonian from the Northern region of Latvia you can meet in the Page on military service in Latvia

Generally speaking, it is surprising that relatively many people admit their Estonian heritage or have evident Estonian names here in Latvia today. At least this is my impression that their share should be greater than 0.12% of the population that is the share of Estonians in Latvia now (1995).

Estonians in Latgale

According to the information in /LKV/, the Census of 1897 counted 1035 Estonians (more precisely - the persons speaking Estonian as the mother tongue) in Rēzeknes aprinķis that was rather far from the Estonian apriņķi of Vidzeme province. Presumably the ancestors of that people were moved to this location at the beginning of the 18th century as war prisoners or perhaps by a manor owner as serfs.

These 1035 persons lived in the following villages of Mērdzenes pagasts:
Degtereva, Kitkava, Rozāri, Silagaiļi, Šalaji, Tobolava, and Valujevi. The total number of Estonians here - 80 persons.

Many more of them lived in Pildas pagasts - 906 persons. Here they were registered in the following villages:
Baldači, Belomoiki, Borovaja, Inķēni, Kukujeva, Laizāni, Lielie Ķepši, Lācīši, Mazie Ķepši, Paideri, Purkaļi, Pūkaiņi, Rabakazi, Stalāni, Šķirpēni, Šnitki, Tribuki, Varkaļi, Vēžēni.

These Estonians remembered that some time ago they were Lutherans, but to 1897 almost all of them became Catholics that was the main religion in this region. The elderly Estonians of Pildas pagasts spoke Estonian and followed Estonian customs, but the new generation began to assimilate into Latvians and Russians. By the way, a well-known politician Anatolijs Gorbunovs in a newspaper interview (1997) informed that he had discovered some genealogical links to Estonians that were moved to Latgale.

I can note to the both lists of village names mentioned above that quite many of the names coincide with person names known to me, which is not surprising, because it was the common practice in Latgale in the time of the naming (1864) to give to almost all of the inhabitants of a village the name of the village. One of them, and namely - Paideri could be understood as a German word for the inhabitants of an Estonian town Paide, but I do not insist it was really coined in this way. In any case, if your name is close to a name from the above lists of Latgalian villages, search for an Estonian connection in your origin.


© Bruno Martuzāns. 1995-2002