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The oldest families on island Fehmarn

By: Peter Wiepert.
English translation by: E.Bügge-Wood.

The name Wohler mentioned in 1174 in a Cologne

In the [acquiesce] subservience acts of 1329 the names Rickert, Marquardt, Clausen, Kruse, Boyer and others are mentioned.

The meritorious Fehmarn researcher Peter Wiepert  within 50 years of work, searching for the oldest family names on the island Fehmarn in German as well as Danish archives and found interesting chronicles. Which give an insight, to the oldest [some still residing on the island Fehmarn], family names, already found here 800 years ago. 

Old Fehmarn consanguinity [kinfolk], as for instance the  Imschläger and Pechlins, were at one time many, but already in the 17th century died out.

The oldest family name, which still exist on the island Fehmarn, was already mentioned in 1174, called Wohler, named in an old document of a “diocese” in Cologne Präband (Proprietor of a bishopric sinecure)  Henricius Wolderic de ‘Imbriae’ [from Fehmarn]. Another Wolder (Wohler) is named in the first historical record mentioning the Ferry at Fehmarnsund in the year 1199, as an innkeeper or ferry guide or boatman. It was a bit hard to decipher “derver...i”

In 1231 the Wohlers and Tiedemanns together are recorded as owing revenue “copulation” (Verbindung) - maybe already a society or clan? Or as a united kinship - mentioned. Both families built a kinship (Vetternschaft), lasting hundreds of years. Their Epitaph with Low-German inscription, also a picture of an old farm (Bauernhof) in the year 1581, hanging on a pillar in the church in Landkirchen.

In 1302 the Marquard (Marquarden) and Bull (Bullen) together and the Beiers (Beygers) are mentioned as a clan (Vetternschaft), they had to pay a small portion  of their income to the land elder (the so called “Königspfennig”) - surely for privileges or renewal of same, etc.

In the subservience act “Unterwerfungsakte” of 1. July 1329, when the people from the island Fehmarn had to declare themselves subservient to their legal landlord, the ‘Count Johann’, the village elders or speakers for a village (Dorfgeschworene oder Sprecher ihrer Dörfer) were sworn in and the following names mentioned: “Wohler and Marquardt from, Blieschendorf, Muhl from Struckkamp, Claussen and Wohler from Teschendorf, Schacht from Neujellingsdorf, Rickert from Vadersdorf, Kruse from Gammendorf, Bayer from Petersdorf, Wilken from Westermarkelsdorf, Saehn [Sähn] and Kahl from Dänschendorf, Schacht and Tiedemann from Todendorf, Sievert and Stake from Puttgarden, Detlef from Presen, Scheel and Kruse from Burg, Wilder from Gahlendorf, Hintz from Vitzdorf and Sievert from Staberdorf, Witten from Ostermarkelsdorf.

In 1398 the following dues-paying clans “fehmarnsche Vetternschaften” are the Wohler clan, (die Wohler’sche) and Tiedeman (Tiedeman’sche), Marquardt (Marquardt’sche), Beyer (Beyer’sche), Muhl (Mulen’sche) and Brandt (Brandt’sche) and the Sievert clan (die Sievert’sche) mentioned; in 1408 the Wilken clan (die Willken’sche) is added.

In 1450 the villagers and the city of Burg deeds and wills are mentioned in alphabetic order with the following family names: Adam, Bahr, Becker, Beyer, Brandt, Bruhn, Bügge (Bugge), Detleff, Drews (Dreussen, Drewsen) Ehler, Harder, Heldt, Hintze, Holst, Johannsen, Junge, Kahl (Cale), Kluever, Kruse, Kuehl, Lemke (Lemecke), Marquardt, Mule (Muhl), Priess Pruesse), Seyer (Seiger, Sejer), Sievert, Wilder, Wilcken Willeken), Wohler, Wulf (Wulfe) - of these the names Beyer, Ehler, Marquardt and Wohler are mentioned more often.

In 1450 until 1500 new names are added on: Albert, Andersen, Bockwoldt (Bockholde), Bumann, Hack (Haake), Hofeldt (Hogefeldes), Koch, Kolhoff, Kordt, Kroeger, Lafrents (Laurents) Lange, Luetke, Maas (Maes), Michelsen, Martens, Olderogge, Petersen, Pruessing (Prutzinge), Raleff, Rauert (Rauwert, Rarwert), Ryke (Rieke), Sercke, Schmidt (Smyth), Steffen, Schuett, Timm, Timmermann, Tode, Vicke [Fick], Voss, Wiepert. 

1493 for the first time Rauert- (Rauertsche) and Witt- clan (Wittsche Vetternschaft)

In 1489 a new clan (Vetternschaft) of the Seygern (now called Seyer) and Heldten [Heldt] are mentioned, but soon disappeared, for in all the clans accounted for up til then are missing in the year of 1493. As the new clan in this year is the Rauert- and Wittsche [Witt] clan (Vetternschaft). They, according to the clans-records of the year 1653 (dem Rauertschen Vetternschaftsbuch) from a family in Presen residing, [moving 1420 to Fehmarn from Dithmarschen, Holstein] named Rauert-Witten. Later, after 1500 united into one, with the  Mackeprang-, Stucken- and Ehler’s- clan (Vetternschaft).

The oral traditional delivery, that in the year of 1420, during the destruction of the island Fehmarn by the Danish King Eric, only three people from Fehmarn surviving the ordeal, seems to belong to an invented myth. There is no mention of it in any documents; judging by the historical records, there were at least 7oo to 800 survivors from Fehmarn.

The family name Mackeprang is mentioned for the first time on the 18th of November in 1507, on Fehmarn, when the church scribe in Landkirchen Jakob Wolder and Mathewes Mackeprang purchased land from the farmer Peter Kotze in Blieschendorf. In 1379 the name Mackeprang appeared in Westeralling in Jütland Denmark, but there seems to be no family connection to the kinship on the island Fehmarn.

In the above mentioned list of Fehmarn names - in the year of 1493 new clans are recorded by the families  Lafrentzen [Lafrentz}, Kahlen [Kahl], Pechlins and Raleffen (Rahlff). The last one was dissolved by the authority in the year of 1504, because the cousins often lived in conflict; at times even had bloody battles, “weilen die Veddern in beständigem Streit leben, sich des öfteren auch blutig schlagen”.

Marquardt and Bull clans had already united in the year of 1493. These clans (Vetternschaft) kept their own church pews and grave lots for many years in The Bannesdorf church, which is still kept up. After 1500 the Witten also separated from the Rauert’s clan. In  1513 Captain Tönningen Rauwerdten from Burg reported to the Regional Court (Landgericht), that the Witt kinship  dissolved and separated from the Rauert clan.

In 1558, besides the above mentioned clans, the clans of Mackeprang Witt Stück and Ehler Mackeprangen-Witten-Stücken-Ehlersche Vetternschaft are documented for the first time, and it was officially announced: “that they had united some years ago”. They erected  their own church pews and burial plots in 1580, these were renovated in 1913 in the church in Landkirchen and is still in existence . After 1650-60 the Stücken [Stück] and Ehler’s clan was not mentioned in connection with the Mackeprang-Witten-clan (Vetternschaft), but their clan is still existing and probably the last Fehmarn clan. They have their seat in Landkirchen. All others dissolved before 1750 with exception of the Rauert clan (Vetternschaft).

The Rauert’s clan had to be dissolved in 1835, because a member of the Rauert clan, living on the island Fehmarn had moved and taken the old rules with him to: Stubbeköbing on the island Falster in Denmark, so the privileges for the clan were not granted again.

  Ehler’s clan since 1507 on their estate

The clans (Die Vetternschaften) carved their own coat of arms or mark of ownership “Hausmarken” into their shields, weapons, tools and house rafters. They never used to carry flags. Later the Mackeprangs and Wittes had their own flag in 1891, their cloth was made by the painter Muxfeld with their own coat of arms, the claw of a sea gull, with the three Witte pennies painted on it.

All together there are not many families, whose names have existed hundreds of years on the island of  Fehmarn. They also, pro rata often changed in the villages, one can recognize, that most of the names didn’t last much longer than 150 to 200 years in the same village, with some exceptions, for instance the Ehlers and Kruse in Schlagsdorf, who stayed there for 450 years.

Of the old “funeral brotherhood” and guilds I want to mention, that they were already active in the MA and carried symbols and banners with saintly figures etc., for instance the Saint Osewaldt guild in Daenschendorf. They wore a wooden carved crow on a stick, with halve a ring in it’s beak. This symbol represented the Schutzpatron of the guild, the holy Osewoldt, who in the 9th century as heroic defender of Christianity, was sainted in England and from his prison in Scotland, by means of a black crow, sent messages to his sweetheart.

“Our beloved Mother Mary”

One Guild called our beloved Mother Mary “Unser leeven Fruwen [in lowGerman]”, today called the Marien-Guild in Landkirchen with Mother Mary in a banner field, like the Saint Nicolaus Guild “Sante Nikolawi-Gille”, today the Saint Niclaus Guild in Petersdorf, were erected and created in about 1430,but there was supposed to be one before that as an older Saint Peter brotherhood “Sante Petri Bröderschape”, Only official documentation is missing.

Another influential Burial Brotherhood (Totenbrüderschaft) was during the 15thand 16thcentury. In the 16thcentury a “Townsman[bourgeois] Company” (Bürger Companie) was formed in Burg in 1434 and is still in existence. During the years of the black plague these brave people carried the corpses to their graves - disguised and masked (vermummt) - , but they had no banner or flag.

The Wildersche Gilde [Wilder Guild]

On the island Fehmarn were in olden times unusually many guilds and Brotherhoods, almost in all the larger villages, they all dissolved before 1800. The Guilds for the professionals is still in Burg and Petersdorf, also the Wilder Guild (Knüppelgilde)in Burg and the great riflemen’s Guild (Schützengilde) in Petersdorf were all opened after 1835. The Wilder Guild was formed from the already existing Northern death Guild of 1775 and this was formed from the older “officialduty” (Amt) of the shoemakers in Burg.

I finally want to add different Guilds and Brotherhoods that existed in the early centuries on the island Fehmarn and were officially documented, but none after1750: Named was the ‘neighbors Guild’ of Puttgarden in 1541, in old Low German: “Nabergille thor Potgorden” - the ‘old guild of Klausdorf’ in1598: “Ole Gille thor Clavesthorpe” - The St. Lawrence Guild ofBlieschendorf in 1604: “Laurenti-Gille thor Blieskendorp” - The St. PeterBrethren in 1636: “Petri Bröderen thor Alversthorpe” - The little Guild ofYellingsdorf in 1671: “Ein klein Gille in Jellendorpe” - The Schelenbrothers from Bannesdorf: “De Schelenbrödre thor Bannsthorph”.

In this case I could not clearly decipher or make out the meaning of the last brotherhood, wether it meant the united Scheel brothers or was it a society for the Schelen brothers? The Schelen-Brethren were those elders in the village that had the rights to straighten out fights and enjoyed a certain superiority. - The Sailing Brethren of Burg in 1439 - “De Segeler Bröderschape in der Borg” -The Mary Magdalena Guild in 1439: “Maria Magdalena Gille” - The High Chair Brotherhood in 1511 “Hoge Stohl Bröderschape” -The Danish Guild of Burg in1511: “Dänsche Gille in 1511 Borg - Our Jacob’s Brethren of Burg in 1378:“Sunte Jakobs Bröderschape thor Borg” - The Holy Dead Guild of Petersdorfin 1440: “Hillige Liekenames Gille” in Petersdorf - The firemen Guild of Lemkenhafen in 1589: “De Böter Gille Thor Lemmekenhapen” - The Shipper brother’s Guild of Saint Juergen in 1540: “De Schipper Brödere by deme Sante Jörgen” and the Calvary Brothers from Burg, who prayed at Saint Juergen charitable institution for the poor souls, when executioners, slave drivers, those who made suicide, murderers and who ever died in prison and mental institutions were disposed of without a formal funeral, in 1506: “Calvarienbrödere”.

Besides those Guilds there were also united people in the town and villages, some had made a contract to share a well, a gate or an entrance to a field, that they shared responsibility over and cared for, but we don’t want to go any further.


E.Bügge-Wood, Bügge-Wood Translations, 3096-1A Maryland Ave.Columbus,OH-USA 43209<Phone: (614) 237-4972




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