Fitz is a prefix in patronymic surnames of Anglo-Norman origin. This usage derives from the Norman fiz / filz, pronunciation: /fits/ (cognate with French fils < Latin filius), meaning "son of". In noble families, this was preposed to the name of the father (e.g. Fitz Gilbert, meaning "son of Gilbert"), mirroring the Scandinavian tradition of adding -son after (usually) the father's name. There are, however, exceptions in which the name of a more noteworthy mother (Fitz Wymarch) or a parent's title (Fitz Count, Fitz Empress) was used instead. Such surnames were later created for illegitimate children of royal princes.
Adoption by other nationalities
In later times, similar forms were coined for members of the English and British royal family, who historically lacked a surname, and particularly for illegitimate children of kings and princes (Fitzroy, son of the king; Fitzjames, son of the king James II of England; and FitzClarence, son of the Duke of Clarence). From this later use, it has been inferred that the name indicates illegitimacy, which was not originally the case. More generally, the prefix has been used to connote nobility as is the case in Anthony Trollope's 1862 novel Orley Farm which features the rakishly aristocratic figure of Lord John Fitzjoly.
The Irish name Fitzpatrick does not indicate a Norman origin of the family; it is the translation into English of the Gaelic surname Mac Giolla Phádraig. Other surnames beginning "Mac Giolla" were made into "McGilli-" (e.g. McGillicuddy), but the Fitzpatricks claimed Norman heritage in a time when the Normans dominated much of Ireland.
Fitz is also a stand-alone German surname originating in the Palatinate region of Germany.
Surnames with the prefix
- FitzAlan or Fitzalan
- FitzClarence or Fitzclarence
- FitzGeorge or Fitzgeorge
- FitzGerald or Fitzgerald
- FitzHerbert or Fitzherbert
- FitzHugh or Fitzhugh
- FitzJames or Fitzjames
- Fitzpatrick or FitzPatrick
- FitzRoy or Fitzroy
- Fitzsimmons or FitzSimmons
- Fitzsimons or FitzSimons
- Fitzwilliam or FitzWilliam
- Oxford English Dictionary, "Fitz", sense a. Retrieved 2013-10-26.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.