Emporea Church, Santorini

The Ionian Legacy of Haralambos Halkiopoulos

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On the Name:
The name, Halkiopoulos, in Greek looks like this:

The name in Greek letters.

It is derived from root halk taken from the word halkos, meaning copper in English. The suffix -poulos generally means son of, so the entire name means son of a copper worker or, more generally, of a metal worker or metal smith. The ending of poulos also reveals that the origin of the name came from somewhere in the Peloponnesis, perhaps where early Greeks might have mined, worked or traded copper. A survey of the 1999 telephone book shows, though, that the surname distributed widely around Greece, as revealed by the number of Halkiopoulos families in each area code. To see this distribution on a map: [click here]. Interestingly, there are Halkiopoulos families in the area codes of Kefalonia, Crete and in the county of Thira, all three locations of this family's research interest. However, this distribution does not prove a connection.

It is also interesting to look at the map to find Halkis Island, near Rhodes, and a number of Halkis towns, which must have had a history with the metal, such as mining or marketing the metal. There is a Halkis near Constantinople (Istanbul). Greek speakers, however, insist that the name is patronomical, rather than locational.

image of an index.
Detail of an index
on microfilm showing
both names.
In researching the name, both in vital records and in history books, one inevitably encounters the name Halikiopoulos. This name seems to be confused with Halkiopoulos. This name is derived from the root hali-, which is used by the words, hali, meaning plight, halií, meaning carpet and haliíki, meaning gravel. In at least one instance, I have seen the same person in an historical survey assigned both surnames in the same book, one way in the table of contents and the other way in the text. So, even Greek writers and speakers might find it easy to confuse the two names, so my search extends to the the name Halikiopoulos, as well as Halkiopoulos. Andreas' daughter, Virginia, had adamantly told me, though, NOT to confuse the names because to avoid confusion with the family of a well-known Halikiopoulos that had murdered somebody in Athens. There were, however, Ionian Island nobles and Greek Orthodox clergy with the surname, so it seems that the cause for concern is now long in the past.

In vital records, where the names are written in cursive, it is often extremely difficult to tell the names apart (see list above). Errors, then, might have been made in recording the names or in the reading of the names. Illiteracy, even of the Orthodox priests of that time, contributed to the confusion. The occupying powers deliberately tended to discourage education of most people, including the clergy, in order to hold them at bay. The transliteration of Greek letters to English and other languages is still another source of confusion because various groups use more than one standard. Anglican writers have transliterated the name

Halkiopoulos (in Greek)

for instance, with the following spellings: Halkiopoulos, Chalkiopoulos and Khalkiopoulos. Laurent and Guillou in their 1960 French study of the 1457-1458 Latin work entitled Le Liber Visitations' D'Ahanese Chalke'opoulos provide further variations based on French, Latin and Italian transliterations, such as: Chalke'opulos, Calciophylus, Caleopulus, Calceopilus, Calciopilus, Calceoplio, Calcefilo and Chalceophylus. Here the root seems to relate to the Latin word for shoe, calceus , or the verb to shoe, calceo. Calciofilo, as a matter of fact, is the Italian word for soccer! But even Laurent and Guillou define the word calceus , which is found in Athenesa's document, as ironsmith, which is similar to Greek translation above, coppersmith , though a better definition might be now metalsmith.

Finally, there are also natural variations that take place over time just within a village, such as Halkopoulos, or even possible shortenings of the word, as in Halkis, Halkio, etc. The Anglican reader might be confused by the changeable endings of the names, depending on gender, number and grammatical declension of nouns, including proper names, according to how the word is used in a sentence. For instance, a name might end differently as a subject, object or a possessive in a sentence. These endings might even depend on whether the record is written in the Katheravousa (pure/legalistic/detailed) or Demotic (everyday/newspaper/spoken) Greek.

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Andrew Jendrzejewski