The Wethmar Family


The History & Origin of the WETHMAR surname

The WETHMAR surname is of German origin and arose as a toponymic name, one based upon a connection between the initial bearer and a place of habitation, such as a town or a village. In our family's instance the surname has been traced to the the town of Wittmar which lies near Wolfenbüttel in the German state of lower Saxony.  The etymology of the  the toponym Wittmar was derived from the the ancient word "wit" which means "moor" or "swamp".

Wolfenbüttel which is south of Braunscheig on the river Oker, was first mentioned in documents dating from the year 1118 and received its municipal charter in 1540.  The city is home to a sixteen century town hall and a castle that was built in the seventeenth century.

The original bearer of the surname WETHMAR would be one who dwelled in, or hailed from the town of Wittmar. German archives include a reference from the year 1327 to one "Echardus de Wetemere", who was then a farmer in Hannover. 

Reasearch further indicates that bearers of the surname Wethmar moved from Germany to Holland, perhaps initially as merchants or as migrants in search of greater economic opportunity in a more tolerant open society.   In fact, even as late as the nineteenth century, it is misleading to speak of sharp distinctions between Holland and Northern Germany. According to scholars, the Dutch language was spoken as far east as Riga (in what is now Latvia) well into the eighteenth century.

Many German migrants in Holland would alter their surnames to make them appear more Dutch and the same process occured among Germans who emigrated to South-Africa. Dutch emigration records contain an entry for Barend Wethmar, a young "onderwijzer" who set out from Amsterdam for an unspecified destination in 1861.

Copyright © 2007 Carl Wethmar All Rights Reserved