This surname of RAASCH is of German origin and there are two explanations for its origins. Firstly it was a nickname for a nimble person, from the old German RASC (quick). Other spellings of the name include RASCHKE, RASCHKA, RATZE, RATZKA, RASCHEK, RATZEK. In Czechoslovakia it is RASEK, RASKA and RAS and in Holland the name is spelt RAS. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards. It was also a personal name derived from the element RASK (a soldier). The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. The name in Ireland was AGHAS and the family were established in Meath and Kildare in the 14th century, taken there by English settlers. The name has ramified strongly in Ireland. A notable of the name was Rasmus Christian RASK (1787-1832) the Danish philologist. He mastered some 25 languages and dialects, and is said to have studied twice as many. He became professor of literary history at Copenhagen in 1825 and of oriental languages in 1828.
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