This interesting and long-established surname is of early medieval German origin, and is either a status name for a small farmer or a nickname meaning "neighbour, fellow citizen". The derivation is from the German "Bauer" (Middle High German, "(ge)bur"), ultimately from the Old High German "giburo". The Middle High German word denoted an occupier of a bur, a small dwelling or cottage; hence, "neighbour, fellow citizen", but this word later fell together with the Middle High German "buwaeere", an agent noun from the Old High German "buan", to cultivate (the land), thereby denoting a peasant farmer, one who depends on either cottage industry or agricultural labour as a means of subsistence. Recordings of the surname from German Registers include the birth of Andreas, son of Endres Bauer, at Arnsfeld, Chemnitz, Sachsen, in 1520, and the marriage of Andreas Bauer to Ursula Meyher in Neundorf, Chemnitz, Sachsen, on April 4th 1587. A Coat of Arms granted to the Bauer family of Loeben is recorded heraldically in Rietstap's "Armorial General", and reflects the surname's origins, depicting a peasant, clad in black, and holding in each hand a flail, against a gold field; another shows a deer rampant proper on a green terrasse against an azure field. A green trefoil is positioned under the deer, and a gold star appears in the dexter chief. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Johanne Bower, of Greifswald, which was dated 1354, in "Die Greifswalder Familiennamen des 13/14 Jahrh", by Dr. H. Nuske, during the reign of Charles 1V of Luxembourg, Holy Roman Emperor, 1347 - 1378. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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