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George Kanarakis

Miltiades Bidzanis/Bidzanakis, later Michael de Diar. 1835-1920.

The origin of two surnames.

Comprehensive biography of Miltiades Bidzanis/Bidzanakis, later Michael de Diar

Originally, the name Bidzanis had been a nickname given to the family, after a forebear who spoke with a lisp. He, unable to say the word “vizaini” (suckle), had pronounced it “bidzaini”, and thus Bidzainis, later Bidzanis, had become the name by which the whole family was known.

In Smyrna, it appears that Hariton again changed the name from Bidzanis to Bizanis, and this is still the surname carried by his descendants through his son Elias (Leon) in Australia, though now spelt Bizannes.

Sometime during the late 1860's Miltiades Bidzanis changed his name into Michael De Diar, possibly to better cover his tracks. [If you read the comprehensive biography, you will discover that, as a young man, "...According to a family story, when returning to his village in Crete to visit his parents and relatives, Bidzanis was involved in the murder of an Ottoman Turk"].

Family information passed down through generations asserts that his new surname is linked to the nickname “elafi” (deer) which he earned when he still lived in his native village in Crete because of his prowess in running and jumping. The word “Diar” is a mis-spelt form of “deer” and the “De” possibly represents the Greek abbreviation of his father’s name Demetrios.

Over the years his name has appeared in a variety of spellings, such as De Diar, DeDiar DeDear, de’Dear, deDear and de Dear. After 1920 the family, in an effort to standardise their name, modified it nto “de Dear”.


In The Wake Of Odysseus. Portraits of Greek Settlers in Australia.

George Kanarakis

RMIT University
124 La Trobe Street
Melbourne 3000

Greek-Australian Archives Publications


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