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About the study
The Machula One-Name Study goals are:
- To determine whether the worldwide Machula families are related, and if so, to group them into their appropriate branches.
- If possible, to construct an overall Machula family tree, linking families by genetic similarity if no paper trail exists.
- To discover when and why the patronymic suffix was dropped from the name of some families.
- To help any Machulas who are interested in researching their own family history.
Machula is probably a Sudovian (Yotvingian), Old Prussian, or possibly Lithuanian surname. These are all Baltic languages, but the former two are long extinct. Lithuanian is the closest living relative.
The ending -atis or -itis is a Baltic patronymic suffix meaning 'son of.' The meaning of the surname Machula, with its original suffix attached, i.e. Maczullatis or Matschulatis, is probably 'son of Matthew.' Therefore, it is possible the surname had multiple original forebears who were not related.
Historical occurrences of the name
Machula is a relatively rare surname. Among almost 270,000 surnames in the UK in 2002, there were no Machulas (although at least one family has immigrated since then, based on BMD records).
A 1990 US Census study of over 7 million people, consisting of almost 90,000 surnames, has no Machulas.
A more extensive study was conducted for the 2000 US Census, of almost 270 million people and over 6 million surnames. However, among the downloadable list of the top 150,000 surnames - those with 100 or more members - Machula is not listed.
I have not yet found reliable surname indexes for other countries.