From the Latin, the term vulgo means "alias" or "also known as." In some cultures it is common to see a second name, in addition to the surname, preceded by the word "vulgo," meaning "so-called" or "also known as." German, Czech, Polish, Italian, and Spanish are just some of the cultures in which this term might be encountered. There are equivalent words in other cultures; for example, "detto," "dit," genannt, modo, sive, alias, etc.
The practice of adding a second surname are varied, again, depending on the culture -- it may be to distinguish different branches of the same family, or to show a family's association to the land (house, property, farm, estate). And, the second or "vulgo" surname may change, when one relocates. It's also possible that a man may aquire a vulgo surname through his wife.
The appearance of such terms often puzzles researchers: the key is recognizing the term's function when encountered within family names. Understanding just what the second name represents may be a matter of researching the naming practices within the context of the local area, culture, and time period. The second surname or alias, preceded by its associated term, is commonly found in civil and church records; this, its importance to genealogy.
Help us improve this frequently asked questions area. Please send us feedback or additional questions.