Yeah, i'm adicted to this stuff...   Learn about the family roots of the Jewish Turkel Tribe [webSite map]

Etymology and early references updated Nov 30, 2004

Wayback machine: The Turkel Web Page

Three legends: 1. Wien Walls 2. The Kidnapped Boy 3. refusing Czar army
Other sources: 4. Rausnitz Tax Book 5. The Rausnitz Rabbis 6. The Earliest Reference
7. Non Jews having the name Turkel and it's derivatives
A general information about Surname Origins

Where do "our" Türkel folks originally come from?

Where does the name Türkel appear first,
and at what period in History?

Prior to the end of 18th century a surname had been used (in Europe) only by "nobel" families.  When family names became obligatory - those people who already had a surname registered it and those who didn't took one.

According to Israeli Sup. Ct. Justice, Yaacov Tirkel, the origin of our name was written Yidish Terk'l, meaning a little Turk.  One of the explanations was predicated on the assumption that the family moved from Spain to Turkey and shortly after this to Galicia, Eastern EuropeAdina Turkl Barlev, my 2nd cousin, has insisted that her surname was written Türkl.  A German book by Hugo Gold (written in 1929) may illustrate the "true" story behind the inaccurate 17th century legend.

  Wien Walls

Courtesy Ann Turkel, the famous actress:

" When i was in Vienna i heard that the name originated when the great wall was built around Vienna during the Turkish invasion.  The people that defended the wall were called Turkel fighters of the Turks.  ann. "

Webmaster's Note:
The Turks pressed a siege of Wien, first in 1529 and later in 1683.

The Siege of Vienna, 1683
In the summer of 1683, the main army of the Ottoman Empire, a large and well-equipped force, besieged Vienna. The town was nearing the end of its ability to resist: but just as the capture of Vienna was becoming only a matter of time – not more than a week away, at most – an army came to its rescue. On September 12th, in an open battle before Vienna, the Ottoman army was defeated, and the city escaped pillage and destruction (Source: 1683: The Siege of Vienna)

Unique information about the second invation starting in 1675 is presented within The London Gazette 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

The Kidnapped Boy

On Feb 16, 1999, WCT (William Charles Turkel) attached a newspaper clip to his email: "A fellow with a photographic memory by the name of Norbert Pearlroth had a "by-line" in the "Jewish Post and Opinion."  There was a "Your Name" section where people could write in and ask him questions.  On Jan. 8, 1978(?) (the year here is my estimate after talking to the party who posed the question) the following was published:"

"Dear Mr. Pearlroth:
Our name is Turkel.  I think the original spelling was Terkel.  My grandparents (both deceased) came from either Russia or Poland.  Is it possible for you to tell me the origin of the name.  Cordially,
  Albert Turkel, Ralegh, N.C."

"Turkel - correctly Tuerkel - is a family name of romantic origin.  It began with a 7 year old boy in the 17th century.  His name was Perez and he was the son of Rabbi Solomon Sefardi of Raussnitz in Czecholoslovakia.  He was captured by a Turkish army detachment and taken to Belgrade, where he spent 1½ years.  He bravely resisted all Turkish attempts to convert him to Islam.  When he returned home he was given the affectionate nickname of Tuerkel (Little Turk) which later became the family name of his desendants.  Belgrade is now the capital of Yugoslavia but in those days it was a part of Turkey."   view the newspaper clip   and   the "true" story

WCT notes:

(1)  The party who posed the question, Albert Turkel of NC, is one of the "Woonsocket, RI/Anna-the-Opera-Star" Group.

(2)  In early 1993 I corresponded with George I.  Sackheim (George's genealogy "Scattered Seeds" is quoted by you under the "Benjamin T. - enigma of George Sackheim") and mentioned this story to him.  George was kind enough to look up Rabbi Solomon Sefardi in two Rabbinical reference books - JEWISH RABBIS (Miori Galicia) and ENCYLCOPEDIA OF RABBIS - but was unable to find any mention.  I still have hopes of "vindicating" this reference some day!! ... webmaster: the "true" story

(3)  It was MANY years after we first had Pearloth's mention of a "Rausnitz, CZ" connection that we learned that there were in fact TURKELs from there.

Webmaster note:
The event of kidnapping had occured approx. 1682-1683 before Peretz was born Circa 1700. It is reasonable to believe that the kidnapped boy was Rabbi Solomon Sefardi, the father of Peretz. As explained bellow.

The Rausnitz Rabbis

A book introduced to webmaster (May 2000) courtesy Tomer Brunner, Netania, Israel

Die Juden und Judengemeinden Mahrens
in Vergangenheit und Gegenwart
Ein Sammelwerk herausgegeben von Hugo Gold,
1929 Judischer Buch und Kunstverlag, Brunn

Webmaster's translation:
    The Jews and Jew Civil Servants in past and present in Neu-Raussnitz
    page 2: under the title "Die Raussnitzer Rabbis":

Shlomo (1675-1750) son of Jakob "The Sephardi"
worked in Schaffa.

As a boy of seven years (~1682) he was captured and imprisoned by the Ottoman forces for year and a half, but remained Jewish (never converted).
He passed away on March 14, 1750.

His son Perez (Peretz) adopted the surname Turkl afterwards.

According to Dr. Heinrich Flesh Rabbi Shlomo should be identical to Salomo son of Jacob from Krakow.

According to "Otzar Israel" vol III, 86, Rabbi Salomo was expelled from Belgrade.  His full name was Rabbi Solomon son of Jakob Munian.

The above was considered the most credible source of information about the origin of the Jewish Galizianicher Turkls, until we found an older story
Webmaster believes that all (or at least the most of) the branches mentioned in the introduction and "enigma" pages are family related.

Neu-Raussnitz Tax Book

As written above in the top of this page, in the years 1782-3, the Jews in Austria were obliged to assume permanent family names.  In 1931, Dr. Heinrich Flesch (1875-1942) published his research based on Neu-Raussnitz tax book from the year 1808.  He found many indications of the genesis of Jewish family names, which were fixed in the time of Emperor Joseph II.  In the Community Register the secular name Turkel Philip was given to Pessach Ben-Shlomo.  In the footnote Dr. Flesch wrote that the origin of the surname was from Turkey.

refusing to serve in Czar (Russian Emperor) army

Keyboard pals told webmaster the name refers to Turkey.  For example, Arnold Turkel 1900-1980 told his daughter Margaret the following story to explain where the surname Turkel (with the umlaut) came from:
"A young male member of the family escaped from Russia into the part of Galicia held by Austria-Hungry to avoid being forced into the Russian army.  To explain where he came from, he claimed to have come from Turkey.  He become known as the Turk or El Turk, which eventually become Turkel."
How true this story is Margaret can't say, but it seems believable.  It was evidently a story that had been in the family for some time. . .

The first known Jewish Türkel

The earliest reference to Türkel as surname is made to Yitzhak Tirkel from Lwow, who was apparently killed on a business trip (May 1596) more than 400 years ago.

The source for this outstanding information is found in a Hebrew book named Mas`at Binyamin (משאת בנימין) written in Krakow, 1602. It was reprinted in 1775, 1832 and lastly in Vilna, 1924, see ibid. page 88.  The book includes Q & A, regarding matters of Halakha (Jewish Law).  The relevant question there is about waiving a marriage covenant of a widow (hatarat agunot התרת עגונות).

The story is about three married Jewish men, Yitzhak Tirkel ( elsewhere mentioned as Tirkil  ), Mendel Ben Papos and Faivush.

The first witness, Moshe Bar Yehudah testified before The Rabbinical Court that Mendel Ben Papos and Yitzhak Tirkel from Lwow left the town of Yas, in the year (1596) to go to the land of the Yishmaelim. He accompanied them.  A short while later heard that they were killed.

The second witness, Aharon בהק"ר Jacob testified that on a Thursday, about two weeks before Shavuot (Iyar 5336 / May 1596) the above three named adults together with three young men had left the town Yas on their way to the land of the Yishmaelim.  A few days later, foreigners arrived to this town (Yas) and said, "you Jews should know that those Yishmaelim who left Yas met us and requested to inform you that six Jews who left with us were in a hurry due to the Sabbath. We followed them and found them dead in the valley."

The third witness, Mendil Keisar Halevi testified that on that Thursday, a few Jews left Yas with a group of Yishmaelim on their way to the land of Yishmael.  He didn't say how many Jews were there, but he knew one of them, his name Yitzhak Tirkel from Lwow.  A few days later Yishmaeli came to the town and told that these Jews had been found dead.  The foreigners who apparently were tortured confessed at execution that they had in fact murdered those Jews.

The fourth witness, Mr. Ozer testified that when he left Yas on his way to the land of Yishmael, twenty three foreigners with white kafias addressed him, telling him how six Jews (three adults and three boys) were killed.  One of them they knew by his name, Isaac Tekler from Lwow, who spoke many languages.  Also (they told the whitness) he had a wife in Lwow, out of town; and those white kafias foreigners said that the Jews refused to wait for them in the town, Yas, due to the Sabbath.  So they walked (alone) out of town.  Then we followed them and found them killed in the valley.

Webmaster's conclusions:

Three of the above four witnesses testified under an oath that the surname Tirkel / Turkel was attibuted to a Jew from Lwow over 400 years ago, before most of the Jews used surnames.  It is also interesting to note that Yitzhak Tirkel was on his way to Eretz haYishmaelim [Turkey].  The linkage to Lwow is interesting as well, because most of our family members lived less than 100 Km away from Lwow.

So far it's the earliest evidence about a Jewish fellow named Tirkel.  Hence the kidnap story (~1682) may not be deemed as the earliest evidence, or the only reason for choosing this name.  The referenced article in Otzar Yisrael does not mention the kidnapping legend.  It only says that Rabbi Shlomo ben Yaakov Monian was a judge in Belgrade and had a son Peretz, named after his father.  So it could be a speculation of the author of the above mentioned 1929 German book.

Shlomo's father, Rabbi Jacob Munian ha-Sepharadi had never been referenced as Turkl, while Yitzhak Tirkel lived more than hundred years before him and had this surname.  Moreover, Yitzhak Tirkel's widow should have been permitted by Rabbinical Court to marry another person.  It means Yitzhak had no son after him!  Notwithstanding there is a reason to believe that Rabbinical Judge Shlomo and his father Rabbi Jacob Munian ha-Sepharadi had known about Yitzhak Tirkel's story from the book Mas`at Binyamin.

It could be that more than one Jewish dynasty named Turkel existed, or the descendants of Munian adopted the name following Shlomo kidnapping and the above case of Yitzhak who apparently had not left a descendant after him.

This story may hint us to search the records of Lwow (outside the walls) for the years 1596-1602. However we don't have a clue yet how one could find such records if they have ever existed.

A note: Read the following link for an introduction
about Jewish Family Names
Note: Our research is not based on the references of that website.

Are all the Turkel folks having Jewish roots or same origin?

- Apparently No!


    Some of "our" Turkel folks presume that there might be a Turkish connection...
    In my attempts to research it, I have posted in 1998 e-mails to two Turkish guys, the first named 'Turkeli' and the second to 'Mustafa Turkel'. However none replied... yet.

    In May 1999, I had a cool ICQ chat with Sadik Turkel (nickname Sin), a young guy from Izmir Turkey, who confirmed: "Turkel means in Turkish Turk's hand", or "Turk's land" !

In June 2000, we received an interesting post:

>  From: Ekaterina SOYAK
>  To:   Bill Turkel
>  Subject: Hello Turkel from USA
>  Date: Tue, 6 Jun 2000 10:56:35 +0300
>  Organization: TURKEL
>  Dear Mr. Turkel,
>  Thank you very much for your kind e-mail dated 05.06.2000.
>  Such an interesting coincident.
>  Your parents were right about the meaning of Turkel.
>  "Hand of the Turk" Therefore we have chosen it as a name of our company.
>  As our mane activity is organising Turkish Fairs in the different parts of
>  the world.
>  Thank you once again for your king greetings ,
>  Regards,
>  Ekaterina Soyak
>  Project manager
Here is their website: Coparate – Türkel Fuarcılık A.Ş


We found via internet (also see here) two names: John and his daughter Anna mentioned as 'Tirkell de Wigton' baptised in Cumberland, England in 1705 and 1711 respectively.

    Ref.: Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian Archaeological Society 1950
    searching the period between 1604 to 1750 approximately.

English Anthology

The English Anthology, 1793-4, by Rita Raley mention the piece:
    "To the right honourable the earl of Warwick." [On the death of Mr. Addison.]
    By Thomas Tirkell, esq. From Addisons "Works," 1753.
Webmaster also found via LDS databases about 40 individuals Turkell/Turkill/Tirkel/Turkel etc. who were baptised in England, commencing 1466. . . (they are not included yet in our online database).

Is there a Danish connection?

In September 2000, a Danish folk named Olsen Terkel sent webmaster interesting information about the popularity of the name Terkel in Denmark.

Subject: Re: Hello Olsen
   Date: Tue, 05 Sep 2000 21:01:42 +0200
   From: Doron Tal

Terkel Olsen wrote:
> Hmm not really, i know its an ancient Danish (nordic) name, not many
> Terkel's in Denmark ... less than 500 i think
>       Terkel

Thank you for the swift reply :-)

Could you kindly find out what is known in Denmark
about this ancient nordic name?


Subject: RE: Hello Olsen Date: Tue, 5 Sep 2000 20:14:58 +0200 From: "Terkel Olsen" Hehe, that is not a simple task, and i dont really have time for such an undertaking right now. This i dug up in a name book i have Roughly translated Terkel is a local translation of the name Thorkil, the name is most commenly used in a local part of Denmark called Lolland Falster. On Thorkil it says: Thorkil or Thorkild, is an ethymological?? ancient nordic name, combined of the name Thor (The thunder god) and kedel (steampot). The name allmost died out in the middleage, but was reused in the last century, these days the name is on a hasty retreat.. Thats about it Terkel

Tutt's Etymology

In November 2001, webmaster found a PDF page focusing on Tutt's Etymology and there is a reference to English variations of a Nordic name, "Thurketel include: Thurkell, Thurtell, Thurtle, Thorkell, Thirkell, Thirkill, Thirtle, Throwketyll, Turkel, Turkil, Thurgell, Turgell, Turgill, and Toghill. Even the Old Nordic spellings were retained in some cases, many of which are still in current use today as "English" surnames: Thurkettle, Thurkittle, and Thirkettle."

Is there an Irish connection?

Webmaster was informed that the Turkle families of Kensas and Ohio descended from a common ancestor named John Thurkld, who immigrated in 1818 from North Irland to Boston.  Surname, Thurkld is how it is written in a family bible by the patriarch and a son spells it Thurkeld. Attempts to find their spelling or any of these on the internet through Irish geneology site have failed.  Unfortunately there are no family records in Ireland proper, as they were all destroyed in the uprisings of 1914.  Until recently members of the Turkle family only knew through oral tradition that they had Irish Ancestors, until the 1990's when this geneaology trend confirmed it.  All they knew was the story that they were "Black Irish" and therefore from Danish extraction originally.

Is there a Nordic connection?

In March 2002, webmaster found a web page focusing on "The Farthegn Rune Stones", "3 granite rune stones with the personal name Farthegn engraved on them. All three were carved during the Viking Age (800 A. D. to 1050 A. D.) during the time of Scandinavia's greatest impact on the British Isles."
"The first one is found near Jattendals Lake in the village of Nordanstig in the province of Gavelborge in east northern Sweden. It is about 200 miles north of Stockholm and is located on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia."
"Once transported to the British Isles Farthegn's brother's name, Asmundr, developed into the English surnames" . . . "The village of Osmotherly is located in North Yorkshire." . . . "Farthegn's father's name, Thorketill, means 'Thor's (sacrificial) cauldron'. It developed into the English surnames Thurkell, Thurtell, Thurtle, Thorkell, Thirkell, Thirkill, Thurkhill, Thirtle, Turkel, Turkil, Turtill, Turtle, Tuttle, Thurgell, Turgill, Toghill, Thurkettle, Thurkittle, and Thirkettle. The town of Thurcaston is located in Leicestershire. It means 'farmstead or village of a man called Thorketill'. Thruxton, located in Hampshire (and another one located in Herfordshire & Worcestershire), means 'estate or manor of a man called Thorkell' (a short form of Thorketill)."

Are there any closer family ties with the Nordic, English or Turkish folks?

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