As I’ve mentioned before, surnames for peasants came relatively recently in Latvia – the early to mid 1800s. When the provincial governments issued the decree abolishing serfdom, soon after also came the surname proclamations. After peasants started giving themselves surnames, the lords and rulers started to notice trends that could prove problematic – most prominently, patronymic-style surnames such as Pētersons, Ādamsons, etc. were becoming quite popular (it is worth noting also that patronymic-style surnames only appeared with frequency with roots in Germanic and Slavic languages – I have yet to see any Latvian-language patronymic-style surname). Since this could have the potential to create large groups of unrelated people with the same surname, the government of Vidzeme (the Latvian part of the Livland guberniya) issued a proclamation providing ideas for surnames, in the Latvian language, that people could choose from if they were looking for ideas.

How many people took suggestions from this document can’t be certain. But Latvian surname frequencies do show that nature-based names are the most common.

This 1823 proclamation had four categories of surnames, and I’ll profile each category over the next month of Surname Saturdays. The name in brackets is how it would be written today (or, if the name is unfamiliar to me, my best guess as to how it would be written), while the main entry is its spelling in the 1823 document. Let me know if you want to know what a name means!

This week: Professions, Stations, Jobs and Employment! Most of these are Latvian words, but I do notice some German ones in here.

Ahdminnis (Ādminis) Additais (Adītājs) Ahrditais (Ārdītājs) Ahrstis (Ārsts)
Algadsis (Algacis) Ammatneeks (Amatnieks) Arrais (Arājs) Audseknis (Audzeknis)
Bahders (Bāders) Barrotais (Barotājs) Beedris (Biedris) Behrns (Bērns)
Beķķeris (Beķeris) Bissineeks (Bisenieks) Bitineeks (Bitenieks) Blohdneeks (Bļodnieks)
Brahlis (Brālis) Brauzeis (Braucējs) Bruhdgans (Brūtgāns) Bruņņeneeks (Bruņenieks)
Buhmannis (Būmanis) Buhmeisteris (Būmeistars) Bundsineeks (Bundzenieks) Darbineeks (Darbinieks)
Darwdedsis (Darvdedzis) Dauguls (Daugulis) Dehls (Dēls) Derretais (Derētājs)
Deweis (Devējs) Draugs (Draugs) Drawineeks (Dravenieks) Dreimannis (Dreimanis)
Dseedatais (Dziedātājs) Dselskalleis (Dzelzkalējs) Dsinneis (Dzinējs) Dsirnukalleis (Dzirnukalējs)
Dwihnis (Dvīnis) Eesalneeks (Iesalnieks) Ehrģelneeks (Ērģelnieks) Enģelis (Enģelis)
Ezzetais (Ezētājs) Gahjeis (Gājējs) Gaitneeks (Gaitnieks) Galdneeks (Galdnieks)
Galwineeks (Galvenieks) Glahbeis (Glābējs) Glahsneeks (Glāznieks) Grahmatneeks (Grāmatnieks)
Gultneeks (Gultnieks) Jahtneeks (Jātnieks) Jauneklis (Jauneklis) Ihreis (Īrējs)
Johstneeks (Jostnieks) Juhrgahjeis (Jūrgājējs) Juhrmalneeks (Jūrmalnieks) Kahjneeks (Kājnieks)
Kaimiņsch (Kaimiņš) Kalleis (Kalējs) Kaprazzeis (Kapracējs) Kaschokneeks (Kažoknieks)
Kegelneeks (Ķieģelnieks) Kehniņsch (Ķēniņš) Kohpneeks (Kopnieks) Kohpmannis (Kopmanis)
Krahjeis (Krājejs) Krodsineeks (Krodzinieks) Kuģģinieks (Kuģinieks) Kuhleis (Kūlējs)
Kuhms (Kūms) Kuptschis (Kupčis) Kurpneeks (Kurpnieks) Kutschers (Kučers)
Laiwneeks (Laivenieks) Lassmannis (Lasmanis) Leezineeks (Liecinieks) Leijineeks (Lejinieks)
Luhdseis (Lūdzējs) Lutteklis (Luteklis) Mahjineeks (Mājnieks) Mahzeklis (Māceklis)
Makschķerneeks (Makšķernieks) Malleis (Mālējs) Melderis (Melderis) Malzineeks (Malcinieks)
Mannitais (Mānītājs) Mantineeks (Mantinieks) Meddineeks (Medinieks) Meesneeks (Miesnieks)
Meetneeks (Mietnieks) Mehrneeks (Mērnieks) Meisteris (Meisteris) Muhrneeks (Mūrnieks)
Namneeks (Namnieks) Nesseis (Nesējs) Ohdsineeks (Odzinieks) Ohrmannis (Ormanis)
Pastneeks (Pastnieks) Pawars (Pavārs) Pinneis (Pinējs) Pirzeis (Pircējs)
Pirtneeks (Pirtnieks) Plahweis (Pļāvējs) Plawneeks (Pļavnieks) Pohdneeks (Podnieks)
Prahmneeks (Prāmnieks) Prahtneeks (Prātnieks) Prezzineeks (Precinieks) Puisis (Puisis)
Rattineeks (Ratnieks) Razzeis (Rācējs) Remmesis (Remesis) Rohbeschneeks (Robežnieks)
Sabakneeks (Sabaknieks) Sahtneeks (Sātnieks) Sahzeis (Sācējs) Sargs (Sargs)
Sauzeis (Saucējs) Schahweis (Šāvējs) Schķihreis (Šķirējs) Schķuhtneeks (Šķūtnieks)
Sedleneeks (Sedlenieks) Seepneeks (Ziepnieks) Sehjeis (Sējējs) Sehneneeks (Sēnenieks)
Sehns (Sens) Sellis (Zelis) Semmturris (Zemturis) Skattitais (Skatītājs)
Snohts (Znots) Spejneeks (Spējnieks) Spehlmannis (Spēlmanis) Spreedeis (Spriedējs)
Stabulneeks (Stabulnieks) Stahweis (Stāvējs) Starpneeks (Starpnieks) Strahdneeks (Strādnieks)
Sweineeks (Zvejnieks) Sweschineeks (Svešinieks) Tinneis (Tinējs) Usraugs (Uzraugs)
Waddineeks (Vadinieks) Wads (Vads) Waddons (Vadonis) Wadmalneeks (Vadmalnieks)
Wallineeks (Valinieks) Wallodneeks (Valodnieks) Weddeis (Vedējs) Weentulis (Vientulis)
Weenturris (Vienturis) Weesis (Viesis) Weetneeks (Vietnieks) Wehstneeks (Vēstnieks)
Wehweris (Vēveris) Wihrs (Vīrs) Zehleis (Zelējs) Zeļļineeks (Zeļinieks)
Zeppurneeks (Cepurnieks)

Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 1
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12 thoughts on “Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 1

  • March 8, 2011 at 4:44 am

    Hi, I’m wanting to work out the origin of ‘Laden’. I was told it is a Latvian name. Are you able to please answer my question?

  • March 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Please keep up the good work. Until I found your site, all I knew was my name meaned some sort of bush. I’m still interested in relatives that I may have in Latvia and check here periodically on your progress. Thank you.


  • Pingback: Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 2 « Discovering Latvian Roots

  • March 25, 2011 at 2:28 pm


    “Laden” does not sound like a Latvian name to me. “Ladenhof” (“Laden” + “hof” which is German for farm) is the German name for the Lāde estate in northern Latvia. It sounds more likely to be of German orgin rather than Latvian, but it could have been a surname held by a Latvian, since when Latvian peasants chose surnames for themselves in the early 19th century, many chose German names.


    Yup, your surname would mean “aspen bush”. Best of luck with your research!

  • Pingback: Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 3 « Discovering Latvian Roots

  • May 9, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I see “Lasmanis” on your list. My Great-grandfather, Peteris Lasmanis, and his father Janis Lasmanis worked on an estate called Saraiku Mueza a/k/a Sarraiken near Saraiki and Medze, near Liepaja a/k/a Liebau, per records from the period of the German Occupation [1943] proving baptism. My Grandfather Karlis Lasmanis, in America, Carl Lassman left Latvia in 1905. He was a craftsman and became a very skilled machinist in the manufacture of organ pipes. I am interested in what “Lasmanis” means. I am having my DNA tested to see what it reflects, as my Latvian heritage offers so many possibilities. I had thought that we might be Baltic German craftsmen brought in to work the estate, since Lassman is a German name. Grandma whose father’s surname was Griezitis and whose mother’s surname was Ozol always maintained that we (she and grandpa) were entirely Latvian.

  • June 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I was born in Riga (1938). My grandfather Karlis was from Kurzeme. Around 1906, I believe the family changed their last name from Lassman to Lasmanis. I think around that time many Latvians added “is” at the end of their surnames.

  • Pingback: Surname Saturday – Government Approved, Part 4 « Discovering Latvian Roots

  • February 10, 2012 at 3:31 am

    In reply to the post of Raymond (Raimonds) Lasmanis. The “is” is male gender. In traditional Latvian a male named Lassman was Lasmanis; a female named Lassman was Lasmana. The name may go to a book of names for peasants to select last names from in 1823 – one of the names listed was “Lassmannis” a longer form of spelling of the same name. My grandmother was from Kurzeme. My Grandfather was also Karlis Lasmanis and was from Saraiki in Kurland, Latvia. His father was Peteris Lasmanis, and his Grandfather was Janis Lasmanis – Peteris was born in 1851, Kakrlis in the 1870s. In America the gender was dropped and the double s spelling adopted making it Lassman. Some Americans, however, use Lasmanis.

  • February 10, 2012 at 3:44 am

    I forgot to add: My DNA test came back as Y-haplogroup N1c1 with L550 predicted – I am having further tests done to confirm the predicted L550. My DNA is typical South Baltic and typical of Kurland a/k/a Courland in Latvia. If the predicted L550 is confirmed I am of the sub-clad nick named Varangian[Viking] which appears likely from the predicting factors, also from the location of my ancestors very near to Grobina an ancient Viking town. I will be testing to confirm this and to do a little more exploring – more SNPs and also L551 test, possibly looking at one or two other possibilities that elaborate on the South Baltic prediction. If Grandpa was of German ancestry [likely he was not] he would have had to be of Prussian of the Baltic Tribes, but my predicted sub-clad appears to fit the Kurs better as they were, in fact, Baltic Vikings.

  • March 26, 2012 at 10:12 pm

    Hi Harold, I am N1c1 too (N1c1d2, L591+). My G-G-G-father Antoniy Jonikov Jonan lived in Kalki/Aglona/S.Latgalia around middle of XIX. My G-father with his family left this place in 1913. I am in Orlando, FL too. I am currently participating in some projects (Latvia, etc.) in the FTDNA.

  • July 28, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    Hi Raymond and Constantine: I have lost track of Raymond, but stayed in touch with Constantine – this is more for general information for anyone of the Lassman, Lasmanis family who may be interested. I have continued to test with FTDNA and Geno 2.0 at National Geographic. I am N1c1 L1025+ and classically “West Baltic Tribal” in my DNA. The West Baltic Tribes are the Old Prussian Tribes and the Kurs; the Kurs are the tribe that Kurzeme in Latvia is named for, the place where my Lasmanis Grandfathers are from. Curiously my three closest genetic matches are a Russian,a Ukrainian,and a Lithuanian with a family tradition of his family having migrated to Lithuania from the East, which would be Ukraine, Russia or Belarus, which lies between Ukraine and Russia and Lithuania. My next closest matches are Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, and, of course, Latvians. The Russian/Ukrainian connection is confusing as it involves so many close connections that it seems real enough that my direct male line could have come from the West Baltic and spent 500 years in Russia and Ukraine and then, curiously, moved back to Kurzeme where they belong, according to their deep ancestry. The question appears to be whether my Lasmanis sojourned in Russia or my Russian matches ancestors came out of the West Baltic about 500 years ago. I have tested as much as it is possible to test and my results are widely available, so that the ball is in the Court of the Russians and the Ukrainians if they want to know if they continue to match me closely at 111 STR markers, and how their SNPs stack up to mine when fully tested by Geno 2.0. I am very curious, but there is nothing more for me to do. Harold

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