We have been in touch before ~ I think that we are third or fourth cousins.
I traced the name Svombo back to Hydra, with the help of telephone directories and some Greek-speaking helpers.
I have been in touch with someone who hailed from the island, and who said that the name was very rare, and existed, originally, only on that island.
I have seen it written in Greek, but this board would not accept the Greek letters that I posted.
This name can be transcribed in a number of ways: Svombos, Svompos, Svobos, Svopos
The female version is: Svombou, Svompou, Svobou, Svopou
So the root is: Svombo, Svompo, Svobo, Svopo
As Jim said, 'our B-sound is represented by the letters mp in Greek', so, while we can assume that a two-letter Greek-sound has been translatee into 'mb' in English, we should also assume that it would be just 'b' in Greek.
Although 'Svombo' is unusual, 'Svobo' is not ~ and a number of examples of the name can be found in Eastern Europe ~ including among members of the Hydriot 'Svombo' family, to whom I think we must be related.
I think that it might be related to the name Svoboda, which means 'freedom'. There are various other similar names, eg Svoboden.
I found the word 'svobou' in Czech ~ it means 'Liberty'.
I contacted someone in the Balkans about the name (I have his details, but forget them at present) and he thought that the name 'Svobo' might be related to the name 'Schwab'. There are other similar names, too, eg Szabo.
Schwab comes from the same root as 'Swabia' and might indicate that a person of that name might originate from that part of Germany.
There are similar names in Scandinavia, which might have a similar root, but I don't know.
Various people have suggested various origins for the name, including Venice & Asia Minor. Personally, I think that it originated in the Balkans and was then altered, to fit with the Greek surname system, when the family migrated to Hydra.
Who they intermarried with, I do not know, but some of them must have had 'real' Greek surnames. Greek friends told me that this did not sound at all Greek.
To get back to whether it should be 'Svombo' or Svobo', though ... Based on the fact that two specific Greek letters = 'b' in Greek, we must assume that the name originated in a place where the letter 'b' did exist and that this two-letter equivalent had to be found when the family moved to a Greek-speaking place.
However, if the name was supposed to be 'Svobo', why did our ancestor use the name Svombo or Swambo? Did the British authorities assume that these two Greek letters = 'mb' and did great grandfather just accept this as part of living over here? I wonder!
Or was the pronunciation 'Svombo' actually used in Greece. My Hydriot contact implied that the name could be pronounced either way. Interesting!
This message was edited by the author on March 31, 2007 at 8:51 PM