Recorded in several spellings including Ritmeier, Rittmeier, Rittmayer, Ritmeyer, Rittmeyer, Ritmeyor, Rittelmeyer, and possibly others, this is quite a rare German occupational surname. It literally translates as the "riding master", but was also used in a military sense to describe a cavalry leader. The origination is from the pre medieval word ritter meaning a rider, and meier, a master or later, a major. Perhaps not surprisingly there are a number of coats of arms granted to nameholders including a canting blazon to the Rittmeyer's of Austria. This is a quartered shield with quarters 1 and 4 depicting a white horse rearing, and 2 and 3, a knight in gold armour. A canting is a descriptive blazon based upon the meaning of the surname itself. The introduction of surnames in German speaking regions was from about the middle of the 13th century, slightly later than in England for instance, but well in advance of France and Italy except for the higher nobility. As to when the surname was first recorded is unclear as so many early records have been lost. However surviving records include Heinrich Ritherus (Ritter), a Latinized spelling, in the charters of the city of Worms in the year 1271, and Hans Rittmeier in the charters of the city of Strasberg in 1308.
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