This English, German and Ashkenazic Jewish surname of NAJERA was an occupational name for a maker of needles, or in some cases, perhaps a tailor. The name was originally derived from the Old German word NADEL. Needles in the Middle Ages were coarse articles made from bone. The tailor was an important part of medieval life, and in the parts of Europe where the winter weather was severe everyone needed the 'great cloak' required by nobles or other warm clothing which was made by the tailor whose talent commanded respect. In these times clothes made the man, showing everyone the class in which he belonged and the deference due to him. Laws restricted the lower classes from wearing the clothes of their 'betters'. In almost all European countries the family name derived from the occupation as a tailor became a popular one. The name has numerous variant spellings which include NAGGAR, NAGER, NAGARI, KNEEDLER, NADLER, NEEDLER, NAYLDOR, NEILDER, NEEDLE, NOLDNER, NOLDER, NOLLNER, NADEL, NADELMAN, NUDLER, NETHELER and NADELSTERN, to name but a few. When traditional Jews were forced to take family names by the local bureaucracy, it was an obligation imposed from outside traditional society, and people often took the names playfully and let their imaginations run wild by choosing names which corresponded to nothing real in their world. No one alive today can remember the times when Jews took or were given family names (for most Ashkenazim this was the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th) although many remember names being changed after emigration to other countries, such as the United States and Israel in recent years. The earliest recorded bearer of the name in the south-west of England is Ralf le NELDERE, whose will was proved at Exeter in 1320. John NELDER of Trelowya near St. Germans, who lodged a complaint of robbery in 1470, may be an ancestor of present day bearers of the name in Cornwall. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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