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Surnames, Naming Traditions, Meaning and Origin

Surnames deriving from occupation

Another group of surnames refer directly to the particular trade, craft or occupation of the first bearer. The group comprises easily recognizable names relating to agriculture, manufacturing, retail or to an office, rank, or status, and will therefore tell us what the first bearer did for a living. In this article you will find a group of the most common occupational names in Denmark.

Tved Mill, Tved Parish, Randers County
A traditional Danish mill. Some millers acquired their surname from their occupation: 'Møller'

 

Bager
Baker
Brygger/Brøgger
Brewer
Bødker
Cooper
Degn
Parish Clerk
Drejer/Dreyer
Turner
Farver
Dyer
Fisker/Fischer
Fisher
Jæger
Hunter
Kusk
Driver
Munk/Munch/Munck
Monk
Møller, Müller
Miller
Rytter
Rider
Skytte
Gamekeeper
Skrædder, Schrøder
Taylor
Smed, Schmidt
Smith
Snedker
Wright

Some surnames are formed by a comibation of the name of the occupation and the suffix -man, e.g. Færgemand. Similar names has the suffix -mager (''maker'') added, e.g. Skomager.

Færgemand
Ferryman
Handskemager
Glover
Skomager
Shoemaker

Some surnames describes the office or rank of the bearer and tells us what function or role he had in the community.

Degn
Parish clerk
Fog, Fogh, Foged
Bailiff
Junker/Juncher
Squire, ~young nobleman
Konge
~distinguished man (literaly: King)
Munk/Munch
Monk
Præst
Vicar, priest
Skriver, Schriver
Registrar, scribe

Some surnames has derived from the exact status of their ancestors signified by surnames such as Bonde.

Bonde
Peasant (hist.), farmer
Frimand
Freeman
Selvejer  
Freeman, farmer

As with nicknames, a large number of other occupational names are found in medieval records. Many of these later became extinct or simply failed to become hereditary due to the late adaption of family names in Denmark.