Last name: German

Recorded in many spelling forms including German, Germann, Germain, Germing, Jerman, Jarman, Jarmain, Jarmains, Jermyn etc.(England & Ireland), Gherman (Hungarian), Germani (Italian), Germain (France), Germano (Spanish) and De Germano (Sicilian), this surname can be of either nationalistic, locational, or job descriptive origins. Firstly it can obviously mean a 'man from Germany'. Such names were given when a person moved from one country to another. The easiest method of identifying a 'stranger' being to call him or sometimes her, by the name of the place from whence they came. Spelling being at best erratic and dialects very thick, lead to 'sounds like' spellings of the name. For many nameholders in England the name is probably not Germanic at all, but locational and Norman-French. The entry into England dates from about the time of the 1066 Invasion, and it probably describes a person from the town of St Germain in Normandy, France. Taking the French connection further, the name can also be one of relationship, and derive from the pre 8th century Old French word "germain", meaning cousin or person of the same stock. Another possible origin is that people with the name were originally 'spear-men' engaged as mercenaries by different monarchs throughout Europe. The derivation here being from the German word "geri" meaning spear plus "man(n)", meaning one skilled in its use. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of William Jermain. This was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls" of the county of Oxfordshire". Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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