The town of Czerwin

The Chervin (and Cherlin) family names


This overview page is not updated to reflect the evolution of the main pages (but we note that since this page was written Pavel Bernshtam has written a detailed history of one of the main Chervin lines). Here we give some background information on the lines we originally investigated, focussing on the linguistic side of these names in the context of 19th century Russia. We have now added a few words on the French side, which we will expand if we receive substantial linguistic information. Our genealogical information will be kept up to date on the main pages.

Origins according to Beider

The name Chervin is a Russian Jewish name, which can arise in two ways; either from the place name Czerwin (a Polish spelling) or as a variant of Chervonskiy. Detailed information about this name, about Russian Jewish names generally, and about linguistic issues, can be found here. (Note: Beider uses a more scientific "j" for the soft Russian "i", and writes "Chervonskij".)

The name Cherlin is also a Russian Jewish name, originating in the "Pale of Settlement" in Tsarist Russia in the early nineteenth century. It is a matronymic, formed from the Hebrew woman's name Tsira, and meaning "son of Tsira". More information about this name can be found here.

Known Lines

Chervins in the U.S. ...

In the U.S., the very numerous line of descendants of Elye Velvel Czerwin of Vilna uses the name Cherlin, which was a completely distinct name in the Pale of Settlement. They changed the name a few years after immigrating; it seems that when the z was Americanized, the w was as well. We know that Jack Cherlin entered in 1922 as Jacob Chervin and then used the spelling Czerwin until 1928. Samuel Cherlin entered as Schloime Czerwin in 1909. But Hyman used "Chaim Zirlin" when immigrating in 1905 (this is firm: we have also his wife and wife's brother indicated on the manifest).

We do not have detailed information on other lines descended from Czerwin families of the Pale of Settlement and Poland; we have a great deal of information on Cherlin lines, but we have only just begun collecting information on Chervin lines. [This is out of date. See the Table of Contents for regularly updated information.]

We welcome further information from other descendants of Czerwin's in or near the Pale of Settlement, particular in the lines Chervin and Cherwin, and we hope to have more to post on this topic.

This name is not exclusively Jewish, even in Russia, as it derives (in part) from a Polish place name, though it may be that the non-Jewish form is more likely to be Chervinsky (Czerwinski). One might guess that the Czerwin form would be Christian Polish rather than Jewish, as it adheres to Polish spelling, but this is just a guess. In the U.S., usage is unpredictable.

Cherlins in the U.S.

For a general discussion see the Cherlin Family name page. Here we will discuss the investigations that show the origin of one U.S. Cherlin line in a Russian Chervin line.

Detective work

The Cherlin website was originally set up around the extensive information on the "Vilna Cherlin" line in the U.S., gathered by David Cherlin. It expanded naturally to include other Cherlin lines in the U.S. as well as Australia, Estonia, Russia, and Israel. Meanwhile an old family tradition that the Vilna Cherlin line is actually a Chervin line was confirmed by the discovery by Stew Cherlin in 2003 of Jack Cherlin's original signature in Yiddish (Hebrew characters), in a form like "Tshervin", followed by Stew's analysis of the Ellis Island immigration records using the Ellis Island database and the search tools at JewishGen developed by Stephen Morse.

The Cherlin Home Page will continue to document Cherlin-related lines, and the Chervin Home Page will document Chervin-related lines. The Vilna line will appear on both.

Yekv Tshervin
Yekv Tshervin

Spelling variations

As these names have been written in three alphabets in a dozen countries, both spelling and pronunciation vary. In the Pale of Settlement the official language was Russian, and the official alphabet was therefore Cyrillic.

The spellings used there for the ancestors of Cherlin lines would be most accurately transcribed "Tsirlin" or "Tsyrlin" in English. Yiddish spellings would be considerably different, and in the U.S. and Australia the preferred spellings have been Cherlin, Chirlin, and Cherlyn. U.S. social security records list some people under both Chirlin and Cherlin at different times.

We would expect however that the Chervin lines used the Russian Ch rather than the Russian Ts, giving a form very close to Chervin. The Polish form is Czerwin, pronounced much the same as Chervin (or Cherveen).


See also Pavel Bernshtam's History of the Chervin Family in Russia and Argentina.