What is the meaning of my family name, Majersdorf.

(Also spelled Maiersdorf, Meierdorf, Meyersdorf, Myersdorf.)

  • 2
    Hello. How does the meaning of the name help you trace your family hisotry -- do you suspect it originates in a specific place, and is so, specifically where?
    – user104
    Dec 10 '18 at 14:22
  • One of the unsolved questions is that I know a number of Majersdorf branches that I cannot connect to one tree. There is a Majersdorf legend that says that all Majersdorfs are connected to one ancestor but I am not sure how to do deal with that legend.
    – chaim01
    Dec 12 '18 at 5:23

Majersdorf is a compound word,

Majers + dorf

  1. The "Meier" (see Meier for all its spelling variations)
    was a functionary (an overseer or steward) in the household of a higher status individual. Familiar English cognates are mayor and major.
    Meier eventually would also be used as a given name. (See Meier Name Meaning)

  2. Dorf is German for village

Thus Majersdorf is the village of (the) Meier.

As a surname, it may have derived from the village once known as "Meiersdorf" and is now Mirkowice, just inside the western border of Poland. There may be other placename candidates or the appellation may have been general rather than specific.

In response to comments:

Geographically-derived names fall into 2 groups - addresses (location descriptions - Hill, Marsh, Wood) and origin (town, region and country names - Prager, Brandenburger, France). Origin names could denote ownership (for nobles!) or PREVIOUS residence. The smaller the "location", the less distance from that origin, at time of surname adoption. (The same pattern holds true today - when asked by a stranger where you are from, you tailor your answer to a place they recognize).

Surnames were adopted in Europe over a long period of time, starting in the 1300s in Italy, trending northward and eastward. Increasing populations meant that given names were not sufficient to distinguish individuals, even in the same town. In this phase, surnames were relevant to the individual - his actual occupation, his physical appearance or habits, his location or origin, or a family connection.

Eventually, the surname became linked to all family members and would be inherited. This process (flexible to fixed surnames) was not complete, even in Europe, until fairly recently (late 1800s). Depending on the region and group targeted, it may have been mandated by the authorities (Netherlands, Jews).

So - your geographic surname may have been "in the family" since the 1400s or it may have been chosen in the 1800s. You should research naming patterns and history of your family's region or country of origin, if you know it. There are books and websites with resources. If the surname was adopted late, there may be records of the process. If the surname was adopted early, historical addressbooks may give some indication of a shared regional origin.

Meiersdorf was in Silesia, but there are similar placenames (Maiersdorf, Mayersdorf) in Bavaria and Austria. With multiple candidates, there is the probability of multiple origin points (just as there were many ancestral Smiths).

In any case, research in surname origins for genealogy tends to be limited and of much less importance than research in primary records of individuals.

  • bgwiehle How did you figure out that the village Meiersdorf is now Mirkowice. That is very new to me. Please respond.
    – chaim01
    Dec 12 '18 at 5:21
  • I just found it myself in Wikipedia. Thank you for helping me to this. Now I am not sure what to do with the information.
    – chaim01
    Dec 12 '18 at 5:28
  • 1
    There are a number of online gazetteers that include alternate placenames. For Meiersdorf, I used GOV [gov.genealogy.net/search/index ].
    – bgwiehle
    Dec 12 '18 at 14:20
  • I looked up the gov.genealogy site you recommended. It is interesting. But how could I possibly go further to evaluate if my Majersdorf family really comes from this town.
    – chaim01
    Dec 13 '18 at 5:26

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