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The Neumark Survey of 1718-19 (Königsberg District, Prussia)

historical background of the surname map

Since the mid-17th Century, the population of Brandenburg had been steadily diminished, not only by the Plague but also by various military conflicts, including the Thirty Years War. However, under the reign of Prince-Elector Frederick III (1688-1713, King of Prussia from 1701) Brandenburg's population increased up to a third. Central Europe was an area of frequent territorial gains and losses, thus Frederick had political and economic motivations to continue the policy of Eastern Colonisation. In 1718, he ordered a survey and unlike preceeding German censuses, this one is notable in that it recorded family names and professions.

The visualisation shows a small subset of the survey, the distribution of the Krüger and Schmidt surnames in the district of Königsberg. Only the head of household is listed by name, male in the majority of cases, together with their profession. The terms used to describe different categories of farmer refer to land and property rights, reflecting the social hierarchy:

Bauer = entrusted with feudal lord's land, in theory for an unlimited time. Should yield enough to feed dependents, usually has several farm buildings & often employs some labourers/maids.

Kossäth = owns cottage & has small amount of land, as well as the right to farm on common land. May own a horse or ox, but usually needs to supplement income through day-labouring.

Freihäusler = owns cottage, free to use the premises for other commercial activity, e.g. to brew beer. Works on feudal lord's land & pays tax.

Neubüdner = sometimes has small piece of land, in addition to grazing rights in the woods, but no rights to farm on common land.

Krüger and Schmidt surname map, using OpenLayers 2 (© 2010)


Paul Schwartz (1927): Die Klassifikation von 1718/19. Ein Beitrag zur Familien- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte der neumärkischen Landgemeinden. published in: Die Neumark, Verlag des Vereins für Geschichte der Neumark, vol. 4, Verein für Geschichte der Neumark, 211 pages

Willi Wojahn (1996): Der Netzedistrikt und die sozialökonomischen Verhältnisse seiner Bevölkerung um 1773. published in: Quellen und Darstellungen zur Geschichte Westpreussens, vol. 28, Nicolaus-Copernicus-Verlag, 205 pages