Hoffmann Heraldry And Genealogy: A Geographical Perspective
Hoffmann Heraldry And Genealogy: A Geographical Perspective
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Hoffmann Heraldry and Genealogy: A Geographical Perspective; by Frederick George Siler; 2018; 201 pp; 8.5x11; paperback; ISBN: 978-1-62859-185-9; Item #: FR0702.

This volume deals with the Germanic heraldry of families whose name was one of the most common in Germany - that of Hoffman. The Hoffmann surname originated as a term for a farmer who owned his own land as opposed to holding it by rent or feudal obligation. The name comes from the German word hof(f) meaning “settlement,” “manor estate” or “farm” plus the German term Mann for “man.” Later the Hoffmann name came to denote the manager or steward of a manor farm. The name became extremely frequent throughout Central and Eastern Europe, especially among Jews, who in many places were not allowed to own land, but held managerial positions on non-Jewish estates.

Because the Hoffmann surname has become widespread, not only in Germany, Austria, and eastern Switzerland, but throughout Central and Eastern Europe, many different spellings have arisen over the centuries. In English and other European languages, such as Yiddish and Dutch, the name is also spelled as Gofman, Hauffman, Hoeffmann, Hoefman, Hoffman, Hoffmann, Hoffmanne, Hoffmanns, Hoffmmann, Hofman, Hofmann, Hofmanne, Hofmans, Hofmmann, Hopman, Houghman, Hoveman, Huffman, Huffmann, Hufman and many more.

German heraldry is unlike British heraldry where a coat-of-arms is associated with one person. Siler's book includes arms that originated as house marks, guild marks, and burgher arms that have been used by families for centuries. Also included are noble armorial bearings that have been granted to the children of an individual and have been passed down through descendants.

It should be noted that the volume is heavily footnoted, allowing the researcher to locate and examine the original source materials from which the author drew his information. An amazing place index is found at the rear of the book, allowing genealogists to often associate a specific place with Hoffman families. It is the author's belief that there is often a coat of arms that may be associated with one's European ancestor. It may not be that of a direct ancestor or that of one's ancestral family, but it could well be linked, if only by the proximity of geographical location.

This one-of-a-kind book is the third in a series exploring the heraldry and genealogy of common German surnames with a focus on the English-speaking family historian who seeks another fresh approach to their research. This is not another book about how to trace your German ancestors or a reprint of readily available information from old sources. Most family historians will concede that the research process begins to become more tedious when we attempt to deal with European historical locations and records written in a foreign language. Armed with this book, you will start to overcome barriers of language and shifting state boundaries. Learn how the following components can enhance the story of your Hoffmann ancestors. Included in this particular volume are:

  • Over 4,300 historical and modern geographical locales of the Holy Roman, German and Austrian Empires, as well as Switzerland;
  • Synopses of 35 current and past political states and regions; with links to a catalog of genealogical records by FamilySearch;
  • Colorful plates of 44 coats-of-arms along with genealogical and geographical information on 95 Hofmann, Hoffmann and Hofman families.

The following is from the Table of Contents



CHAPTER 1 - Synthesizing Heraldry and Genealogy for a Practical Research Tool

  • What is Heraldry?
  • Common aspects of Genealogy
  • Heraldry and the family historian
  • Geography as a fundamental tool for integrating heraldry and genealogy
  • Associating a coat-of-arms with your ancestor

CHAPTER 2 - A Brief Introduction to German Heraldry

  • Historical Background of Germanic Heraldry
  • Components of the Germanic Coat-of-Arms
  • Modern German Heraldry

CHAPTER 3 - Heraldic Symbolism

  • Introduction to heraldic symbolism
  • Symbolism of the colors, furs, lines, divisions, and ordinaries
  • Symbolism of the common charges

CHAPTER 4 - An Introduction to the Hoffmann Surname

  • Origins and meanings of the name
  • Variations of the Hoffmann surname
  • Location and distribution of the surname
  • Some historical documentations of Hoffmann

CHAPTER 5 - Hoffman Armorial Bearings: Defining the Elements

  • Introduction to the geographical territory
  • Bearer(s) of the coat-of-arms
  • Particular geographical locale(s) associated with the bearer(s)
  • Description of the coat-of-arms
  • Interpreting the coat-of-arms
  • Other Hoffmann arms bearers of this geographical territory
  • Additional geographical and genealogical resources

CHAPTER 6 - Hoffmann Heraldry and Genealogy: A Geographical Perspective

  • Austria
  • Baden-Württemberg
  • Bavaria
  • Belgium
  • Berlin
  • Brandenburg
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • East Prussia
  • Estonia
  • Galacia
  • Germany
  • Hamburg
  • Hesse
  • Hungary
  • Lower Austria
  • Lower Saxony
  • Netherlands
  • North Rhine-Westphalia
  • Pomerania
  • Posen
  • Prussia
  • Rhineland-Palatinate
  • Romania
  • Salzburg
  • Saxony
  • Saxony-Anhalt
  • Silesia
  • Slovakia
  • Styria
  • Switzerland
  • Thuringia
  • Tyrol
  • Upper Austria
  • Vienna
  • West Prussia

CHAPTER 7 - Interpreting the Heraldry of Hoffmann

  • Charges associated with the meaning of the surname
  • Coats-of-arms that display symbols of the bearer’s religious faith
  • Discerning marital unions, inheritance or other similar family relationships
  • Armorial achievements that illustrate military themes
  • Arms that address a significant accomplishment of the bearer or ancestor
  • Charges that identify family traditions, events or legacies
  • Symbols of honorable characteristics
  • Ancient house or family marks
  • Dealing with different branches of a family in Germanic armory

APPENDIX A - Glossary of Heraldic Symbolism

APPENDIX B - Online Genealogy Research by Location

APPENDIX C - Gallery of Hoffman Coats-of-Arms

INDEX - Historical and Modern Geographical Locales