Earliest Use of Surnames in Romania? #romania #names


Does anyone have a sense of when surnames came into use in the area that's modern day Romania?

I am researching my grandmother's unusual maiden name -- Holdengraber -- and I have used the recent quarantine time to look for connections among the roughly 300 records containing that name in the JewishGen records. The earliest all seem to come from the same narrow region, what's today Suceava County, Romania and was then the southern part of Bukovina. I have long assumed that all the Holdengrabers shared a common ancestor, but given the number of them already by the 1860s, I imagine that ancestor would have to have assumed the surname as early as the 1760-80s.

I was under the impression that Jews didn't assume surnames until the Napoleonic reforms, though. Is it possible this ancestor would have done so three or four decades earlier?

Thanks for whatever information anyone can share. I'd be happy to compare notes with anyone who's interested. My deep dive into the records from these 3-4 towns is showing interesting ways that families moved from one nearby place to another over generations.

-- Joe Kraus   <krausj2@...>

Valentin Lupu

Hi Joe,
 Bukovina in the18-19 centuries was into Austro-Hungarian Empire. Surnames in the Empire were required by law since 1787, for tax purposes.
See this paragraph from YIVO Encyclopedia - Names and Naming:

"The great majority of European Jews took their surnames from the end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth, when state legislation required the adoption of hereditary names. The first law was promulgated in 1787 by Emperor Joseph II and was applied to all Jews of the Habsburg Empire, most of whom lived in Galicia. Jews were free to choose their names subject to approval of Austrian officials. If a Jew had not chosen a name, one was assigned. The choice depended only on an Austrian official’s imagination."

Valentin Lupu

Shelley Mitchell

Does anyone know how names were chosen way back when? Originally I thought geography was used by some. Like Schwartzwald or Konigsberg. Clearly some chose a “son of” name. But the others?
Shelley Mitchell, NYC    shemit@...
Searching for TERNER, GOLDSCHEIN, KONIGSBERG, SCHONFELD, in Kolomyya; PLATZ, in Delaytn; and TOPF, in Radautz and Kolomea.