The Inbody Surname

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The surname Inbody is a derivative of the Swiss German name, Imboden. The first immigrant of that name to America was Johan Adam Imboden, born in Switzerland in 1709. He arrived in Philadelphia on 27 August 1739 on the ship Samuel, having sailed from Rotterdam, probably via England, that being the usual emigrant route during that time.

The name immediately began to change in spelling. As Johan was a German speaker and most of the people he was dealing with in Philadelphia were principally English speakers, the official taking his name probably wrote it down as it sounded. In the Swiss dialect of German, the name Imboden is pronounced something like Im-poh-duh or Im-poh-tuh. Thus, it is no surprise to find those early renditions of his name on official documents was written as Impote, Impode, or Impotty. In fact, of the family names that have descended from his four known sons, there are three different spellings, none of them Imboden.

Some later descendants changed the name back to its original form of Imboden and others to Inboden. It is not known whether the change was done purposefully or if it was just another indication of language having its evolutionary effect on the name.

The changes in spelling occur in first names, as well. Johan Adam Imboden is often recorded as John. This is an easy Anglicization of the given name and also as a result of a common abbreviation found during that time; John and Johan were often abbreviated as Jn, often interchangeably, thus resulting in an easy confusion. In the case of our earliest Imboden ancestor in America, the spelling is almost certainly the Germanic one, he having been born in Switzerland and being a German speaker.

The name Catherine is also one that has multiple spellings. For the women who lived in Pennsylvania in the 18th and 19th century, the name was probably Catharine (pronounced Kat-ar-een-uh), the German spelling. English speakers nearly always changed the name to Catharina when writing it down, but sometimes used Catherine as well. It probably depended on whether the writer had heard the name pronounced or had seen it written down.


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Last edited on 24 November 1999