Nov 23

Finding more Almaers

British, Personal with tags: , , 3 Comments »

My family name “Almaer” is a rare one. We have never found any others in England, and the same goes for the US. The family tree goes back in many directions, to countries all over Europe, and one line is aristocracy in England.

Then, out of the blue, I got a Skype message from “Jean Almaer”. Hmm, it could be bogus. I added Jean to Skype, and it took forever until he was online at the same time as I. I sent him a message and then it began. We knew that the name came from Belgium, and Jean Almaer lives in Flanders! I have gotten my Dad in touch, and we are working down the line to see if/where we connect. Pierre, Jean’s brother, is a linguist and knows about the history of our name:

“Almaer” is definitely a Dutch/Flemish name in this spelling. “ae” is the old spelling for long “a” (now replaced by “aa”). The German equivalent would be Almar. The etymology : “al” stands for adel/adal/German Edel, or Old English Aethel,Ethel, as in Alfred, Albert, Aethelred, and means “noble”, and mar (or “maer” in its Flemish/Dutch form) is an old Germanic word meaning “famous”. I was told by the same professor that “Almaer” used to be a (very rare) first name in Flanders. Note that the German family name “Almer” is of a different origin and stems from the Alm river in Bavaria. The Flemish name Olmer has the same etimology as “Almaer”. There are a few Olmers in Belgium, but no Almaers (except our family, of course)

My favourite part of an email was this sentence which was saying how exciting it is to work this all out:

To tell the truth, the “da Vinci code” story is almost as funny as a phone directory of West Mongolia, compared to this.

Classic :) I am excited to see more Almaers out in the world!