My mother's maiden name is SCHWENKE. I know that it is German. Does anywone know if it means anything?

Also, my last name is MEYER it means "merchant of dairy products". Some German-English Dictionaries write that it is "farmer" or "dairy farmer" which is too symplistic. It can also be spelled "MEIER". Anyone ever heard of this? I have learned this from German speakers and would like some more confirmation.
Tags:  Meyer, Schwenke
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I am also a descendent of the Schwenke tribe, but I am more familiar with the Samoan Schwenke side and am working on all sides of Schwenke's. If you want to know more, you could buzz me back.
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I found the above an interesting site for the name Meyer. My grandmother's name was Mina Meier, so I just surf
the web now and then, for fun. I wa born in 's Hertogenbosch, Nord Brabant, Holland.

Roswitha Shaw
Ottawa, Canada
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Hello Aviseenah!


1) From the Middle High German word "swenke" which means "to swing". This is probably a hint at the gait of the person.

2) In Low German this can be "daughter/son of Sweneke" (a Low German form of the Old German female first name Swanhild meaning swan + fight, battle)

3) From the town of Schwenke (situated in Nordrhein-Westfalen)

Meier, Meyer, Maier, Mayer

1) From the Middle High German word "mei(g)er" which means "higher, superior" and was used for landholder's stewards or great farmers or leaseholders. (Nowadays a Meier is a dairy farmer).

2) In Low German this can be from the Middle Low German word "meier, meiger" which means "foreman, mower".

3) As a Jewish family name this name can come from Hebrew "meïr" which means "enlightened"

Meier and Meyer are used more often in Northern Germany while Maier and Mayer are used in Southern Germany.

All together (Meier/Meyer/Maier/Mayer) this would be on the 3rd place of the most numerous names in Germany. Meyer alone would be on the 5th place:

place 1: Müller
place 2: Schmidt
place 3: Schneider
place 4: Fischer
place 5: Meyer
place 6: Weber
place 7: Wagner
place 8: Becker
place 9: Schulz
place 10: Hoffmann

place 30: Meier
place 34: Maier
place 39: Mayer (this was from 1996, I couldn't find anything newer)

There are many composition names like Tegtmeier, Brinkmeyer, Griesmaier, Gerstenmaier, Meyerhoff etc.

Hope this helps
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I have just received documentation from the former Austria-Hungary.
It said that my Grandfather's real surname was spelled Mayer not Meyer. He was born in German Village called "Altfutak"in 1892.
What are my chances of tracing the family back to find out where in Germany they are from?
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