Recorded as Glabach, Gladbach, Von Gladbach,Gladbeck,Gladtbach, Glattbach, and Gladebeck, in origin these are 14th century medieval German locational surnames, which have similar meanings. They are often found in the same registers, and sometimes their spellings overlap even within the same family, an indication of the level of education even amongst the more wealthy families. In general though we believe that they may be from different sources although possibly within the same area. The two elements of the surname are the ancient word "bach" meaning brook or stream, plus "glad", a swamp or "glatt", smooth, or in the transferred sense with water, slow moving.There are various places so named, and the original nameholders could have come from any one of them. However as the surname seems to be most popular in the province of Rheinland. Interestingly the coat of arms for Glattbach is from Austria, although the name is rarely recorded there. This is a clear example that "arms" often do not identify the origin or even the nationality of the bearer. The name is one of the first recorded in Germany, as shown below and examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic charters of the period include Severus Von Gladbach, a witness at Dusseldorf, on November 22nd 1632, Servatius Gladtbach, married at Moselkern, Rheinland, on July 22nd 1663, and Margareta Glattbach, of Mosbach, Baden, recorded there on September 29th 1778. The earliest known example in any spelling is probably that of Hermann von Gladebeck of Recklinghausen, in the charters of the city of Gladbach, Rheinland, in 1392.
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