Recorded in many spellings including Boer, Boerdel, Beordman, Boerder, Boerderman, Boerders, and others this is a famous Dutch and often German, surname. Although it now sometimes has a nationalistic meaning when associated with, in particular South Africa, in former centuries it had the fairly simple meaning. This was a 'tiller of the earth' an occupation now known, although not accurately as a farmer. In spirit to be a 'boer' as an occupation, was the same as the medieval English description of a yeoman or husbandman. These were people regarded as honest men, the pillars of society, freemen who worked the land. In past times a farmer was a sort of land agent, a person who obtained the right from a landowner to 'farm out' the land in return for a fee. In due course many of these farmers by setting rents too high, obtained possession of the land themselves, and in doing so they gave the word farmer a bad name, which percolated through into the 20th century. Occupational surnames became hereditary when a son followed a father into the same line of business or occupation. Examples of random recordings include that of Willem Simons Boer, a christening witness on March 7th 1666 at Boskoop, Zuid Holland, and in Germany Georg Borderman at Telgte Stadt, Westfalen on January 25th 1776, and Peter Boerder a century earlier at Rengsdorf, Rheinland, on December 18th 1678.
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