Date: Sun, 17 Nov 2002 17:38:03 -0500

Author: "James R. Frysinger"

Subject: Re: Galileo Galilei


On Friday 15 November 2002 10:22, Machele Cable wrote:
> Surnames are a relatively new custom (in the scheme of human ancestry)
> dating back to about the 1400s, (give or take 100 years).
> ... Thus, people had to be able to distinguish
> who's who. Suppose a father named David had a son named Erik. Erik would
> them be recorded as Erik, David's son. Still, Erik would have been known
> widely as 'Erik" because that was his given name. At some point,
> 'David's son' became 'Davidson' and the surname became part of the
> family, but the tradition of calling people by their 'given' name stuck.
> (I was told, but don't know for sure, that many scottish surnames names
> beginning with Mac or Mc was because 'Mac' was a gaelic short form of
> 'from' or 'of'. So MacDonald meant 'from Donald'. The same kind of thing
> was true for Irish names like O'Brain = 'of Brian'.)

I had thought until now that Galileo was called Gallileo Gallilei (literally,
Gallileo [son of] Gallileo) because his father's name was Gallileo. But he
postdates the 15th century by quite a bit.

So, inspired by the information Machele has provided, I did a net search and
found this at :
"Galilei was born in Pisa in 1564, the son of Vincenzo Galilei, well known
for his studies of music, and Giulia Ammannati. He studied at Pisa, where he
later held the chair in mathematics from 1589 - 1592. He was then appointed
to the chair of mathematics at the University of Padua, where he remained
until 1610."

Thanks, Machele! You've inspired me to fix an error in my knowledge.


James R. Frysinger
Lifetime Certified Advanced Metrication Specialist
Senior Member, IEEE

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