The surname STEINMEYER was a Swedish and Jewish topographic name for someone who lived either on stony ground or by a notable outcrop of rock or a stone boundary-marker or monument. It was also found as an occupational name for someone who worked in stone, a mason or stone cutter. The name is also spelt STEINBERGER, STEINKE, STEHNMANN, STEENMAN, STEINBECK, STENBACK, STENHOLM and STENSTROM. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. In the 17th century, so-called 'soldiers' names are found as the earliest kind of hereditary surnames in Sweden. These names were derived from vocabulary words, usually martial-sounding monosyllables such as Rapp (prompt) Rask (bold), or occasionally names of animals and birds. The names were bestowed on soldiers for administrative purposes, and no doubt in some cases derived from pre-existing nicknames. There are many German-Jewish names which are merely the results of fancy or the vindictive thoughts of petty officials, adopted when the Jews in Europe were compelled to take surnames in the early part of the nineteenth century. Some of the most familiar include STEIN (stone) usually meaning a precious gem. Many who adopted names with pleasant connotations had to pay handsomely to the money-grabbing official for the privilege. Many other names were from names of German towns and cities, and are sometimes borne by other than Jews. From the 16th century many Jewish family names were derived from the house or shop signs in the Jewish quarter of Frankfort and elsewhere. House signs were particularly favoured by Jews, and they were reluctant to give them up. When the city council in 1776, ordered the houses in Frankfort's Judengasse to be numbered, there was such a resistance that they fined the whole Jewish community.
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