Johann Heinrich Thomasmeyer
- Born: 7 Nov 1761, Essen, K. of Hannover, Germany
- Christened: St. Nikolai Church, Essen, Wittlage, Prussia
- Marriage: Catherina Maria Elisabeth Focke on 11 Nov 1790 in Essen, K. of Hannover, Germany
- Died: 2 Feb 1830, Essen, Wittlage, K. of Hannover, Germany at age 68
Johann Heinrich Thomasmeyer's father, Johann Everhardt Löhr, was born in Stockum as Johann Everhardt Löhr, then married in 1751 to Marie Anna Elisabeth Sieberts. Because she owned a farm he was known for a while as Johann Everhardt/Evert Sieberts, alias Löhr.
The two of them bought the Thomas farm, and the name changed to Thomasmeyer (meyer means 'farmer'). When they took possession of that farm he was known as Johann Everhardt/Evert Thomas or Thomasmeyer, also Löhr and Sieberts. Their children all carried the name of Thomasmeyer as their surname.
At the christening of the first three children, his name is listed as Johann Evert Löhr, genant Sieberts, then when Gerd Henrich was born in 1757, his name was listed as Johann Everhard Thomas, also known as Sieberts.
When his son Everd Henrich was born in 1765, he was listed as Johann Evert Sieberts, modo Thomasmeyer. At the time of his death he had been married to his second wife and was listed as Thomasmeyer, alias Löhr. Since his Sieberts wife had died in the meantime, that name was no longer mentioned.
Therefore, Johann Heinrich Thomasmeyer and his siblings all carried the Thomasmeyer surname, even though his father was known by several names/aliases as was the custom of his time, based on his ownership of property and marital status.
Surname changes were customary in Northwestern Germany, particularly in the areas of Western Hannover, Oldenburg, Westphalia, Lippe Detmold, and parts of Frisia. It began prior to the Carolinian Era, and the practice was effectively unchanged after about 1500. The system was phased out between 1800 and 1840.
The Hof is the farm. Usually the youngest son or daughter inherited everything- no other sibling inherited anything; non-inheriting male siblings changed surnames only if they stayed at the Hof. There was only one family called by the Hof surname in a given generation. The surname stayed with the Hof, regardless of the mode of procurement; this was true for all four Erben (heir) classes: Vollerbe (full heir), Halberbe, Erbkötter, and Markkötter. The Vollerbe had the oldest and the highest status in the Mark.
The advantages of the Vollerbe status was: Protected tenancy, no military service, ability to keep and re-invest profits, more votes in Mark council, ability to engage laborers and choose lessees in the Mark, greater rights to use of Mark properties, serve as judges of the Mark, receive greater percentages of Mark property when the system was ended.
The disadvantages were: the Gutsherr needs to be asked and give permission to marry, harvest trees, build new structures, etc., a fee must be paid for marriage and death, one would lose the Hof by mis-management, one must have a Freibrief to leave, higher regular annual fees needed to be paid. A Freibrief is a license issued by the Gutsherr (with a fee) allowing a son or daughter of a Hof owner to leave the property. A Gutsherr is the person or institution holding authority over a Mark (answering again to a higher authority); examples include the Bishop of Osnabrück or the Count of Schelenburg.
The Hof system ended between 1800 and 1840. A rental fee was assigned to each property, all other fees were canceled and residents were allowed to purchase the Hof outright. There were no restrictions thereafter on sale, lease, transfer, inheritance, etc. Naming practices are still used by some families today. Men's surnames such as Thomas or Thomasmeyer (or colon, alias, modo, known as), after the birth surnames may come and go- even to death. Women's surnames changed only if she married onto another Hof. Children were christened with the Hof surname. Hof documents are usually kept in the state archives.
Johann married Catherina Maria Elisabeth Focke, daughter of Johann Hermann Heinrich Ossenbrink-Focke and Margarethe Elisabeth Pöller, on 11 Nov 1790 in Essen, K. of Hannover, Germany. (Catherina Maria Elisabeth Focke was born on 3 May 1767 in Essen, K. of Hannover, Germany, christened in St. Nikolai Church, Essen, Wittlage, Prussia and died on 26 Jan 1841 in Essen, Wittlage, K. of Hannover, Germany.)