Origin of the name TIMMRECK – an attempt at interpretation
Last update: December 28th 2005
(Translated by Andrea Bojarra, M.A.)
In order to facilitate understanding of this section for English-speaking visitors, not only my assumptions but also all the quotations were translated.
Family name TIMMRECK
According to the Zentralstelle für Personen- und Familiengeschichte, Frankfurt/Main of 1983, the name derives from the old German first name Theudemar, Theudoricus, which more frequently occurs in the short forms of Dittmer, Diemer, Timmer, Temmer, Diederich and the like, and is documented as Dimmerig. Thus the spelling Timmreck may be explained. The origin is probably Lower Germany, between Elbe and Rhine.
Further assumptions on the family name TIMMRECK
a) In the Hufenklassifikation of June 9, 1717 (Stolp), the farmer Casper ZIMMERECK in Maltzkow and the peasant Christian ZIMEKE are mentioned. Probably a spelling mistake in the name Zimmereck was made during the collection of the records, because in the parish registers of Lupow – of which Maltzkow is a part – several times only the name Casper Timmereck is mentioned.
There are the following versions of the name: Timmereck, Tymmereck, Timereck, Timmerick, Timreck, Timrek, Timmrek, Timrick, Timmreken, Timmrekken, Thimreck, Thimmreck, Thimrek, Tymrek.
Explanation for the versions of the name
In former times, schools and compulsory schooling did not exist in rural areas. Education was cultivated mainly by monasteries and was reserved exclusively for the rich and the nobility. Even in the 19th century many people were illiterate. When dealing with local authorities or churches the name was communicated in colloquial speech (Low German, dialect etc) and written down by the officials or parish priests as they heard it. Because those concerned were frequently not able to read the certificates or documents, there was no possibility for revision. This only changed with the introduction of compulsory schooling in Prussia through the decrees enacted by Frederick William I in 1717 and 1718, as well as the Erneuerte und erweiterte Verordnung über das Kirchen- und Schulwesen in Preußen of 1734 (a decree about the church and school system in Prussia), and finally the standardization of spelling with the publication of the first Duden in 1872.
b) Assumption by Henry Kuritz (abbreviated)
The version with “T” is definitely Low German. This is also the case with the family names Zimmermann and Timmermann (cf. H. Naumann: Das große Buch der Familiennamen, 1999). In other languages related more closely to the Low German languages this sound change can be found quite frequently. Examples are: German Zeit, English time, Swedish and Low German tid; or German zehn, English ten. The etymology of the word Zimmer (cf. Engl. room) illustrates this even more clearly. The Middle High German word is zimber and zim(m)er. Old Saxon it is timbar and means “living space, dwelling, timber, timber structure”. Old Nordic it is timbr. The Dutch and New Swedish for Zimmer is timmer. The close connection between the family name Timmreck and Zimmer becomes obvious. It can almost certainly be said that it is the same name (Zimmereck/Timmereck).
In the Prillwitz Chronik (Elisabeth Oesterreich, Berlin 1995, edited by Henry Kuritz) the following is said about the name Timmreck:
In the research of this name literature is only of limited help. It is probably based on the name Dietmar (diet = people; mar = famous; famous among the people), already documented in the early High Middle Ages. As instances of the use I would like to name the minstrel Dietmar von Aist, but also the famous medieval chronicler Tietmar. The name became Thimm/Thimme, as can be seen in the following Latin text from the 11th century by the bishop of Hildesheim: “Thiadmarus… barbarice Tymme vocabatur” (Dietmar…called Timme by the strangers/barbarians [this probably means the “Germans”]). In 1348 we hear about a Swagher Tymmecke from Kiel, and in 1341 about a Heyne Timmecke from Luebeck. Certainly, for the name Timmreck also the carpenter (cf. German: Zimmermann) or his equipment could be responsible, because in Low German he is called Timmermann.
c) Assumptions by Hendrik Kutzke (abbreviated, 2001/06/13)
1. The meaning has to be looked for in the field of carpenter (cf. German: Zimmermann), including equipment, furniture etc.
2. Derisive nickname for Zimmermann, but also “tall slim person”.
3. Derivation of place of residence, area, farm etc. For example Zimmeritz in Pomerania. Or similar places like Vel-reke, Hed-reke, Reymrekke etc. There is also the explanation of Zimber = timber.
4. It could also have quite a different meaning, because Timber does also mean “gloomy, dark, dull”.
5. Timber: sound, timbre, onomatopoeic words, (cymbal player).
Based on the spelling TIMRECK/TIMRICK (most likely version) I hazard the guess that the origin of the name is not directly connected with the profession of carpenter. However, the possibility cannot be ruled out either, especially if it is a malapropism or a derisive nickname for a carpenter, or if it is related to carpentry. But then it is only connected to the carpenter in the broadest sense. The area of usage for this is would probably be quite limited, because it is the second syllable -RECK/RICK that really strikes the eye. Its meaning is much more important.
There is the term RICK for “paling fence”. The term RECK/RICK is very prevalent in the investigated area and is used in different ways, mostly in the meaning of “long pole, long branch, long paling”.
The term TIM(M)BRET(T) was also used for the building (Timber, Tim) of working wagons, it was the bigger board used for the sides of the working wagon. Possibly also TUNKBRET(T), flexible board at the side.
Furthermore, there is the term ZAUN-RICK, meaning the rung/paling of a paling fence, so again “long, thin, tall”.
TIMRECK/TIMRICK means “tall, thin person”.
Examining the period before the Thirty Years’ War I would also take into account the name THIADMARUS (Timo), from which names like Thym, Thimmo, Timmo, Timm, Timme, Temme and the diminutives Timmel, Timke, Thiemecke developed. Possibly from Thiemecke and Tymm-erik the name Tim(m)reck developed.
It cannot be ruled out that the name originates from several sources.
d) Additional assumptions by Hendrik Kutzke (abbreviated, 2002/03/14)
The above mentioned interpretations of the name may be complemented with the component of a person-occupation or person-person description.
In earlier times it was common practice to affix personal names to the father’s name (patronyms/patronymics). This may also be possible with the name TIMM-RECK; the suffix may derive from a number of names like
TIMM – (HIN)RECK (which means Heinrich),
TIMM – HINDRIK (also HENDRIK),
TIMMER-HENDRIK-S (son of Hendrik TIMMERMAN and Hendrikje LAMMERS, Hendrikus Hendriks TIMMERHENDRIKS, http://members.tripod.lycos.nl/Ham/KOOPMAN.HTM),
TIMM – RECK(WERTH) RECKWERTH; RICKWARDT; (Frisian-Ingvaeonic personal name),
TIMM – RECK(HARDT).
That this affix also existed in the field of occupational names can be proved with the name TIMMER-ARENS. TIMMER is short for Timmer-(man), meaning “carpenter” (cf. German: Zimmermann) and AREND(ES) is the primary word. I would like to remind you of my assumption: “The second syllable seems to be more significant”. Thus, both names fused into TIMMERARENS.
In more recent times the constellation TIMMERGERD = Gerhard REKERS (1902, Timmergerd – Erinnerungen von Gerhard Rekers,) can also be found.
e) Assumption by Andreas West (2005/10/17)
If it is a compound, TIMM is short for Thimo, Diemo, Dietmar. RECK is the superordinate term for Middle High German Recke: “haunted person, exiled person, stranger; warrior, hero”, Middle Lower German “warrior, hero, giant”, later also “cloddish (young) man”, according to the Duden Familiennamen.
It is possible that one of the ancestors was a strong warrior by the name of Thimo.
Earliest documentation of the name
Parish Groß Duebsow in Pomerania (christenings)
In the year 1661, Erdmuth, Timmerecken daughter of the shepherd at Starnitz, christened on the 2nd Sunday Advent.
In the year 1684, Anna, Casper Timreck’s daughter of the bailiff at Labuessow, d. 23 p. tr. (23 Sunday after Trinity)
In the year 1686, Marten, Casper Timmereck’s son, d. Jubilate
In the year 1733, Nothus Martin, mother Judith Timmerecks, godfather Martin Baaks, and godmother Sophia Baaksen
In the year 1739, daughter Maria, parents Juergen Baaks and Judith Timmerecken
Parish Lupow in Pomerania (christenings)
In the year 1744, Michael Tymmereck as godfather in Maltzkow
In the year 1746, Hans George Tymmerek as godfather in Poganitz
In the year 1748, Maria Tymmerecken as godmother in Poganitz
In the year 1749, son Michael, parents shepherd Martin Reimken and Maria Tymmerecken from Sorchow
In the year 1754, son Peter Friedrich, parents bailiff Christ. Tymmerecken and Dor. Elis. Behnken from Felsow
In Early New High German the letters “i” and “y” were still used synonymously, because – as mentioned above – a standardized spelling was not introduced until the 19th century.
Dissemination of the family name TIMMRECK
Until now I have established bearers of the name (up to 1945) between Hanover and Koenigsberg in East Prussia, with an accumulation of the name in Eastern Pomerania, West Prussia and in southern East Prussia. The name actually does not appear very often in the German-speaking area.