The Origin Remus Family Name
There are two theories on the German origin of the Remus name. Here they are:
Theory 1: In his book "Deutsche Sippennamen" (German clan names), Albert Heinze attributes Rehm (Rem) to the gothic ragin which means to stand out, to protrude, to rule. He then assumes that Remus is the Latinized form of the name Rehm; that is, take Rehm and add the us (an ending usually given to a male person or noun in Latin). There are records of people using the name Rehm in the 1300's.
Theory 2: In his book "Deutsches Namenlexicon," Hans Bahlow argues that Remus is not a German family name even though a lot of Germans carry this family name. He believes that the Remus family name comes from the Latin Remus (from Remus and Romulus, founders of Rome) and was an adopted name.
Plus two theories on the Polish origin of the Remus name:
Theory 3: In his book "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings," William F. Hoffman states that the Polish Remus family name was based on the name of the Catholic saint Rhegius (Bahlow above thought this was a possibility for the German name and the French name too). Rhegius won his sainthood for converting Clovis, the king of Franks, to Christianity. This was important since it moved France towards becoming a Christian nation. There are many Remus family members in France who chose the Remus family name to reflect this important saint.
Theory 4: In his book "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings," William F. Hoffman also states that the Polish Remus family name might have been based on Remisz which is short for Jeremiasz or remisz/remiz which is a "singing tit" (a kind of bird).
Evidence on the Origin of the Remus Name
Some German genealogists say that the first recorded use of the Remus surname was by Aegidius Remus (born in as Aegidius Rem in 1499 inAugsburg); Aegidius was to become the Bishop of Chiemsee (a Bishopic half way between Munich and Salzburg) from 1526 to 1536. This was during the time of the Protestant Reformation and Aegidius worked to reform the Catholic Church in the Archbishopic of Salzburg (Click here for a lot more on the life of Aegidius Remus).
The most famous Remus of the era was the Vice Chancellor of University of Altdorf near Nuremberg namedGeorgius Remus (died August 15 1625). His most famous publication was the codification of German law written with Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor. His ancestors were from the Rem family of Augsburg. So Theory 1 above by Heinze is supported for the Rem(us) family of Augsburg. The family name Remus appears in Grossenhain, Saxony in the mid 1500's (Grossenhain is half way between Leipzig and Dresden). A look at the Lutheran church book of Grossenhain shows the inconsistent use of Remus as a family name and shows the switching back and forth to Reim and other variations. From this I take it that the name had not yet stabilized as Remus. The children of Kantor (choirmaster or teacher) Martin Remus of Grossenhain appear in that church book. So again Theory 1 above by Heinze is supported for Rem(us) being a Latinization of Rem or Reim. But there were alternative spellings other than Reim and Remus in Grossenhain.
The Remus family name also appears inKamenz, Saxony (Kamenz is north of Dresden). In Kamenz the name Remus is used as early as 1491. However, often Remitz and other variations are used. In no case is Rem or Reim used. So in Kamenz there is no evidence to support the Theory 1 above by Heinze stating that Rem(us) is a Latinization of Rem or Reim. In fact, Remus seems to be an alternative to Remitz and might even be derived from the name Remitz.
The Remus name first appears in Poland in the area later to be known as West Prussia. In this case, the Remus family of Kamenz traveled to the area with Augustus the Strong in his campaign against the Swedes in the early 1700's. They stayed on after the war and most if no all the many Remus family members in the old West Prussia area are part of that large family. But also there may be an independent origination of Remus in Poland. This is particularly likely to happen in Kaschubia in northern Poland (a particularly religious group of people) where the most important early literary source in Kaschubian is"The Life and Adventures of Remus." This book is now available in English, just email to order it from Stanley Frymark <email@example.com>. If this did occur, theory 3 or 4 might apply to the Kaschubians.
I might note that I have corresponded with a descendent of the Remy family of France. He attributes his family name to St Rhegius as is suggested by Theory 3.
So there is strong evidence for some Remus family names being a Latinization of Rem (Theory 1) but little evidence for that adoption of the name directly from Remus in the Latin literature (Theory 2). Theory 3 seems supported in France and might be so in Catholic Kaschubia. There is no evidence for Theory 4. However, a new finding is that Remus also might be derived from Remitz. If true, Remitz might have Slavic roots in Saxony (Kamenz and Wiesa were in an area populated by both Germans and Slavic Wends (Sorbs in the modern term for this group).
Also allow me to suggest a Theory 5. I was looking at some maps of Saxony from 1751 in Dresden when I noticed a minor Saxon State name Remissa (it appears to be the old name of the modern Saxon town name of Remse). So perhaps my family was from Remissa. The name is sounds very similar to Remus. Remissa is next to the V and the whole state is in pink.
The evidence for theory 5 is only circumstantial. We find no use of the name Remissa in the Kamenz or Grossenhain church books nor in the burger lists. So it is the weakest of the theories.
Please send any queries to Bill Remus at
August 11, 2008