This most interesting and unusual surname, recorded in German Church Registers from the mid 16th Century under the variant spelling Freidank, may be either Germanic or Askenazic in origin. The component elements are the Middle High German "fried", peace, with "dank", thanks, gratitude, and the surname presumably originated as a nickname for a wise person who played a conciliatory role in a medieval community. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a widespread practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to a variety of personal characteristics, physical, mental and moral. Askenazic ornamental names were frequently chosen for sentimental reasons, and often the component elements are symbolic of beauty, goodness and hope. The German and Askenazic name Freitag, from the Middle High German "vritac", Friday, was often selected, not because of any particular association with the day, but rather because "Freitag" contains the name "Freya", the pagan goddess of love. On November 28th 1656 Margaretha Friedank and Hans Gutschmidt were married in Saaringen, Brandenburg, Germany. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Freidank, which was dated September 10th 1565, marriage to Barbara Frost, Doeblen, Leipzig, Sachen, Germany, during the reign of Emperor Maximillian 11, Habsburg Emperor, 1564-1576. 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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