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Surnames, Naming Traditions, Meaning and Origin

Surnames deriving from a farmstead

A Danish farm near Vejle, about 1870

Asub-group of the habitation names are those surnames that derive from the name of a farmstead, which often was owned by the family at the time when the surname was taken/formed. There were, of course, some farmhands who acquired surnames from the farmstead where they were employed, but these cases are exceptions.

The location of the farmstead

The majority of the names have their origin in their location in relation to the nearby village, secondary their location within the parish. This means that many farmsteads were identified as ''the farmstead north of the village'' or ''the new farmstead'', and therefore named ''N√łrregaard'' or ''Nygaard''. Although the farmstead (or its location) is rather easy to pinpoint in connection with the name of the specific village or parish, it does, however, make identification impossible if you only have the name to go by.

Damgaard, Damsgaard
located by the (village) Pond
Enggaard
 
located near or in the meadow
Gammelgaard
 
"the old farmstead"
Hedegaard
 
located near or in a heath area
Kirkegaard, Kierkegaard
 
located by the Church (supporting the vicarage)
Kjærgaard, Kjærsgaard
 
located by the (village) Pond
Nygaard, Nyegaard
 
"the new farmstead"
N√łrgaard, Nordgaard, N√łrregaard
 
located north of the village
M√łlgaard, M√łllergaard
 
the millers farmstead
Skovgaard
 
located in or near the woods
Storgaard
 
"the large farmstead"
S√łgaard, S√łegaard
 
located by the lake
S√łndergaard, S√łndregaard
 
located south of the village
Vestgaard, Vestergaard
 
located west of the village
√ėstgaard, √ėstergaard
 
located east of the village
Aagaard
 
located near the stream

Other names of farmsteads are: Abildgaard, Bakkegaard, Bjerregaard, Bredgaard, Bundgaard, Dahlgaard, Dalgaard, Dalsgaard, Elgaard, Hovgaard, H√łjgaard, H√łjsgaard, Ladegaard, Langgaard, L√łkkegaard, Lundgaard, Nedergaard, Nedregaard, Overgaard, Piilgaard, Pilegaard, Pilgaard, Provstgaard, Pr√¶stegaard, Skovgaard, Stengaard, Storgaard, Strandgaard

These names only refer to farms of a certain size as smallholdings rarely had a name.

The number of farmsteads would, of course, vary from parish to parish. Only a few of the names mentioned above would be found near the same village, mixed in with a vicarage, a mill, several houses and perhaps a couple of farmsteads with unique names.

Unique names

Some farms have unique names which makes it easy to identify the location, and thereby the family''s origin, from the surname only. An example is the farm ''Kjeldet'' in Fjelstrup, Haderslev County. The family acquired their surname, Kehlet, from this farm, and everybody carrying this surname can trace their origin back to this farm.

Another example is the surname Mariegaard. All carriers of this surname can trace their origin back to either Mariegaard in B√łrglum Parish, Hj√łrring County or to Mariegaard in Broager Parish, S√łnderborg County.

If a farm is well-known, the next owners might also acquire their surname from the same farm, thus establishing two independent branches of the same name. An example is the farm of Rokholm in Vraa Parish, Aalborg County, where two subsequent owners acquired their surname from this farm.