News Articles

Collecting information for book on Meijer variants a daunting task

Researchers have a list of 700

Tags: Genealogy

VOORSCHOTEN, the Netherlands - Two Dutch genealogical researchers are preparing their so-called “Meijernamenboek” for publication next year. It is a volume which lists surnames that include the German/Dutch word Mei(j)er and their derivatives. The writers also want to include information about the origin of the more than 700 surnames they already have collected.

The Germanic term meier has been in use for well over a thousand years. In certain instances - “hofmeier” - it has been translated into English as “mayor of the court/palace” but also refers to someone who was responsible to Frankish emperors and kings for vast territories (and became kings themselves). The term “meier” in essence has a latin origin, maior domus. More commonly, “meier” refers to positions such as caretaker, steward or renter of a farmstead or land. The surname “Grasmeier” therefore suggests an origin with someone who rented pastures while a “Hooimeier” would have controlled hay pastures. Obviously, meier refers to taking care but not to cutting grass or hay as is sometimes thought.

The word “meier” has found its way into many German surnames some of whom with a Dutch identity. For example, the family name Brenninkmeijer, named after the farm Brennink in a Westphalia village, is now common to both Germany and the Netherlands but usually hides behind the C&A corporate identity: the Brenninkmeijers have parleyed the part-time weaving endeavour into today’s Germany-based international textile conglomerate.

A great number of people go through life known simply as Meier, Myer, Meijer, Mayer or a variation of that name. Surnames such as Oostemeijer or Westemeijer suggest a cluster of meiers, hence the need for further clarification. The question could be asked whether these meiers were located on newer farms since as noted before other meiers were known by the name of historic places. But what to make of the surname variation such as Meierotto, Meierdrees, Langemeijer and Kreeftmeier?

Since the researchers already have a list of 700 such names, it is very likely that they know all about Burgmeijer, Leidelmeijer, Schortemeijer, Kronemeijer and Bastemeijer. They do like to receive information - in writing only - about this interesting subject and if it meets their criteria, could include it in the “Meijernamenboek.”

Information may be send to: Project Meijernamenboek, M.J.Th. Kouwenhoven en J.M. Spendel, Postbus 223, 2250 AE Voorschoten, the Netherlands.