About The Surname
What Does It Mean?
"Bauerschmidt" is an occupational surname of German
is a combination of the German words "Bauer" (which means farmer)
and "Schmidt" (which means smith). The name in its compound form
implies a farm smith, not a farmer named smith. Were all Bauerschmidts
originally farm smiths? No, the name is actually much older than that. The
German word Bauer comes from the old German word "Bur" which meant
villager and Schmidt is derived from "Schmied" which meant smith.
Thus, "der Burenschmied" was literally "the village
smith". The earliest Bauerschmidts were, as the name implies,
How Old Is It?
Occupational surnames came into use in German speaking
areas during the 10th century; but, Schmidt/Schmied does not appear to have
been in use much before the early 11th century. The use of Bur/Buren to mean
village(r) does not appear until about the year 1100. Compound surnames
using either Schmied or Bur don't appear until even later. Thus, the name
Burenschmied cannot be more than 900 and may not be more than 800 years old.
It's difficult to say when it first came into use because there are so few
written records dating from this time period and most do not talk about
subjects that would mention the village smith. The oldest documented use
that we are aware of only dates to the 14th century and the oldest that we
have ever seen is from the early 1400s. It is not known exactly when the
name "Bauerschmidt" came into hereditary usage; but, it definitely had
occurred by the late 1400s since there are written records of doctors and
lawyers with the surname during that time period.
Where Did It Originate?
The surname "Bauerschmidt" obviously originated in a
German speaking area. Although we have heard stories that the name
originated in either Western Austria or the Czech Republic, there is no
proof for this and we do not believe these stories. Since there are more
Bauerschmidts in Germany than any other country, it is most probable that it
originated there. Within Germany, the name appears to be more common in
Bavaria and Baden,and the southern portions of Rhineland, Palatinate, Hessen
and Thuringia. Some have postulated an origin near the center of this
combined area - either northern Baden or Bavaria. However, it is just as
plausible that the name started further south and spread northward. Since
it is of occupational origin, it may not have a single source and may have
originated in several areas independently.
Some of the oldest documented uses of the name "Burenschmied" come from
southern Bavaria, near Munich. It is not known whether the name originated
there; but the name was definitely in use in Bavaria by 1400. By the early
1500s, Bauerschmidt was in use over a wide area of modern day Germany - as
far west as the Rhineland region, as far north as the Thuringia Wald and as
far east as the Hartz mountain region, near what was once the border between
east and west Germany. By the late 1600s, the name had traveled along with
German immigrants into northern France and Western Russia. The earliest
occurrence of the name in North America that we are aware of is 1752.
Why Are There So Few Bauerschmidts?
It seems logical that if Bauerschmidt comes from
village smith or farm smith, and since most every village or farm would have
needed a smith, the name should be much more common. The problem with that
line of thinking is that not all smiths were called "der Burenschmied". At
first, the village smith was just called "Schmied". In fact, the surname
Schmidt (including the Schmitt, Schmied and Schmid spellings) is still the
second most common family name in Germany and accounts for about 10% of the
country's population. It was only after the occupation of smith became so
common, that there was a need to distinguish between them. Over time, the
name for some smiths became differentiated by the type of metal they worked,
the type of product that they produced, the place where they worked, etc.
Many of these distinctions can still be seen in modern surnames. A survey
of the 1995 German telephone directory found 610 different compound surnames
ending in -Schmidt, -Schmitt, or -Schmi(e)d, representing over 75,000
individuals! The "Bauerschmidt" spellings represent only one of these.
Therefore, it is obvious that only a small fraction of the smiths were ever
called Bauer- or Burenschmiedt, and that is why the name is not more common.
Coats of Arms / Family Crests
No coat of arms or crest was ever registered for
any Western European country. Despite that fact, there are several
services on the internet that will sell you products with the
Bauerschmidt coat of arms. What you are really getting is a crest
showing the German eagle, a symbol that dates back to Roman times.
Although they may look nice, they do not actually represent the name
"Bauerschmidt" and may not even represent the region that
your ancestors came from. By now you should also know that there is
no relationship between the word Bauer and the words bear, or beer.
Crests on the internet showing bears or beer steins or even bears
holding beer steins are not real either. They were posted as jokes.