The Cherlin and Chervin family names

Samuel Cherlin, Signature
Samuel D. Cherlin, SS-5, 1936
Samuel Cheilin, Signature
Samuel Chirlin, SS-5, 1936

Origins according to Beider

The name Cherlin is primarily 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". Detailed information about this name, about Russian Jewish names generally, and about linguistic issues, can be found here.

The name Chervin is also 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. Again, full details can be found in our extract from Beider. (Note: Beider uses a more scientific "j" for the soft Russian "i", and writes "Chervonskij".)

Known Lines

Cherlins in the U.S.

In the Pale of Settlement there was a name varying between Cherlin and Tsirlin acccording to the Cyrillic spelling, explained by Alexander Beider as a form of "Tsira-lin", a matronymic based on the mother's name "Tsira" and "lin" (son of, corresponding to German "-lein". In modern Russia there are many Tsirlin and also Cherlin families still, who have kept the Cyrillic forms of these names.

In the U.S., the most numerous branch using the Cherlin name is actually a Chervin line, with the name changed some years after immigration. This line is discussed below as a Chervin line.

The authentic Cherlin lines in the U.S. use three spellings: Cherlin, Cherlyn, and Chirlin. There may also be others, notably Sirlin and Zirlin, which we have not located.

The names at the moment of immigration tended to spelled in other ways. The most common variations were Czirlin, corresponding to Chirlin, and Cirlin or Zirlin corresponding to Tsirlin. There are variations with the e (Cerlin, Zerlin), but fewer.

Here are the main lines as far as we are presently aware of them.

  1. Lutsk Cherlins
  2. Ancestor Louis Cherlin
    Spelling at immigration: Leibe Czerlin
  3. Minsk Cherlins
  4. Ancestor Morris Cherlin
    Spelling at immigration: his son Isidor entered as Eisik Cirlin
  5. Plisa Cherlyn Line
  6. Ancestor Baruch Tsirlin
    Spelling at immigration: his son David entered as David Czirlin
  7. Druje Chirlin Line
  8. Ancestors: Brothers "Israel" and Max Mordcha Chirlin
    Spellings at immigration: Harry Chirlin entered as Hirsch Zirlin

For the Plisa line we have a Russian passport showing the form Tsyrlin in cyrillic. This passport was supplied by Dawn Cherlyn. It was issued to her grandfather in 1910 at Plisa, near Disna, to the east of Vilna.

These various U.S. lines all immigrated about 1910, but no connections have been established.

More recently the spelling Tsirlin is becoming more common in the U.S. among recent Russian immigrants.

Other Cherlin Lines

The Australian Cherlin line left the Pale via England.

The Estonian Tserlin line is associated with the city of Walk.

Though the name Cherlin (with that spelling) is exceedingly rare, it does arise by other routes, notably a Swedish Protestant line. We've also got a couple of other Western European Cherlin's, a 19th century Englishman and a 17th century German.

We also know that the ancestor of the St. Petersburg line was an Ilya Cherlin.

Chervins in the U.S., and related lines

This website was intially set up by members of the Cherlin line descended from Elye Velvel Czerwin. All family members in the U.S. use the name Cherlin. A possibly related line in Argentina uses the name Chervin.

The earliest known ancestor with a direct link to the American branch of this line is Elye Velvel. His grandson Samuel Cherlin entered the U.S. via Ellis Island as Schloime Czerwin in 1909. His greatgrandson Jack Cherlin entered in 1922 as Jacob Chervin, and kept the spelling Czerwin until 1928. For this line, the use of "Cherlin" is restricted to the American branch.

-Yekv Tshervin-
Yekv Tshervin

The origins of this family appear to be a group of Chervins who were present first in Svir and later in the agricultural colonies Nadezhnaya and Sladkovodnaya. It is possible that other Chervin lines go back to the same roots, but we have not identified any in the U.S. But there is a large Chervin family line in Argentina descended from the same family, via the branch in the agricultural colonies.

The ancestor of the Argentine line is Kaufman Chervin, born 1805, emigrated to Nadezhnaya colony in 1853 with his family. His son Yerukhim rented land in Sladkovodnaya, then moved there.

A census of Jewish religious officials in the Russian pale of settlement in the mid-19th century lists exactly two with the last name of Shirvindt: Eliyash Shirvindt and Leizer Shirvindt.

The name Chervin is also a well represented name in France with purely French origins. It also occurs in the U.S. either as Chervin or Czerwin, as a shortened form of the very common Polish name Czerwinsky (related to the place name Czerwin).


This website was originally set up around the extensive information on the "Vilna Cherlin" line in the U.S., gathered by David Cherlin. It has 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.

Later copious material was submitted by a number of members of the Argentinan branch, notably Ezequiel Chervin (2004), Matias Chervin, Esteban Chervin, and Roberto Abramzon (2005), and then Catalina Chervin, Mario Jeifetz, Rodrigo Benzaquen Chervin, Adrian Lew Chervin, Fernando Daniel Chervin, and Julio Enrique Chervin (through 2007). Pavel Bernshtam brought together a number of sources casting light on the family members associated with the agricultural colonies around Mariupol, and traced the connection between the Nadezhnaya and Sladkovodnaya colonies (2007).

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 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. The form Zirlin is very commnon in the U.S.; Cyrlin seems less common.

In Russia today (notably St. Petersburg) the name can be found both in the Cherlin and Tsirlin forms. One Russian Cherlin line is related to the U.S. Lutsk line.

In Estonia, a line favors the Tserlin spelling, and an Australian line uses Cherlin. There are Israeli lines descended from the Estonian and Russian lines.

The form "Tsirlin" is listed in an 1811 census of Bobruisk (the uyezd?) according to a Jewishgen page based on LDS films, which has moved. However this page has a more recent dataset.


The whole district around Vilna was referred to as Vilna, or as the Vilna gubernia, also called the Vilna "government" and abbreviated Vilna gub. or Vilna gov. on immigration documents.

There is a "book of rembrance" (yizkor) for Disna in Yiddish and Hebrew. Information about this book may be found here. Gregory Cherlin has a copy.