[Ads-l] [A little OT] Q: Modification of surnames post-slavery (U.S.)

Bonnie Taylor-Blake b.taylorblake at GMAIL.COM
Sat Jul 1 17:32:25 UTC 2017

On Thursday, Jelani Cobb (@jelani9) tweeted the following:

"Learned that black families often have an S on their surname as a remnant
of the apostrophe S that denoted slave ownership. Cobb's --> Cobbs"

(See https://twitter.com/jelani9/status/880506861170110464 and replies.)

I find no evidence that this was a practice in the United States, though
this is hardly my area of expertise.

It appears, however, that British immigrants with the surname "Cobbs" were
arriving in Virginia ca. 1650. And obviously there are other patronymic
"terminal s" surnames -- e.g., Gibbs, Andrews, Daniels -- that are well
established in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Is there support for Cobb's specific contention?


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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