From what language is the surname "Bayh"?

(Inspired by Evan Bayh’s name being in the news recently)
From what language is the surname “Bayh”? Wikipedia is no help for this one – the articles for both Evan and father Birch Bayh do not indicate an extranational ancestry.

Looks like it could be an Irish (or maybe Slavic) name transliterated into English in an unusual manner – “Bayh” instead of “Baich”, for example.

Answering my own question … from here:

Interesting. I don’t think there are any other German surnames ending in “-yh”, unless it is a little-known regional variant (cf. “-li” in Zwingli, Hochuli; which I didn’t know were Swiss German until I started a thread here a few years back).

The online biographies for Birch and Evans Bayh were no help. Thre were two immigrants with the Bayh surname listed, one from Wurttenberg and one listed as just from 'Germany".

This also mentions “Wurtt.”, so it’s looking more and more German. Doesn’t answer how that particular spelling arose, though.

while we’re discussing his last name, can anybody explain to me where his first name came from?
I’ve never heard of anybody else name “Birch” .

Well, Sen Evan’s father, also a former Senator, was Birch Evans Bayh Jr., and was (obviously) named after his father. What he was named after doesn’t seem to be documented online. My hunch? There’s a former Miss Birch among the Bayhs’ female ancestors.

My guess is Birch is a common last name and it got adopted as a first name, like Lincoln and Jefferson are now used as first names as well as last names

FWIW this German phone directory site has 31 hits for Bayh and 178 hits for Bayha. They look to be clustered in Württemberg. I have no clue about the name’s derivation, though.

Here’s Evan Bayh’s family tree:

As you can see, his great grandparents, Christopher Bayh and Christina Crauf, did immigrate from Wurtemburg.

Also, just for the record, Evan Bayh’s grandfather, Birch Sr., was a really successful coach at Indiana State.

I’ve heard a theory that it’s a variant of the name Boehm (Bohemian).

I’m pretty sure it just comes from the tree, whether it’s a first name or a last name. Incidentally, Björk also means “birch tree.”

Criminey! I almost though you said “bj0rn” :eek:

Here is another German site showing the geographical distribution of surnames from phone directories as maps: Bayh and Bayha. The surname is clearly from Württemberg (Schwaben). There’s even a small liquor store chain named Bayha in the Stuttgart metropolitan area. And Gotthilf Bayh was a member of Landtag of Baden-Württemberg in the 50s.

No idea either about the origins of the name. Something to do with Bohemia sounds plausible, or maybe something related to Bavaria, or then simply some local curiosity.