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The name LANNERS

First appearance

The Name LANNERS was first mentioned in a written source in the baptism record of John James (Jean Jacques) LANNERSCH March 30th, 1679 at Holzthum, 2 years after the register for baptisms, marriages and deaths had been started by pastor Brauners in 1677. As of 1686, the LANNERS spelling is first met at Holzthum, whereas it was already used in the sales deed of the Lanners Vogtey in Consthum in 1681. During the following decades, we still see LANDES in 1689 and LANNES between 1698 and 1733. From 1733 onward, only the LANNERS version is used in parish and in civil records. A curiosity has been found in the birth records of the 14th Arrondissement in Paris in 1899: Annette LANNERCE, daughter of Catherine who was registered as LANNERS at a birth 3 years earlier. Didn't the clerk have Catherine's papers in hand when francising her name? Some years earlier, in 1891, John L. LENNOUS was born in Tyrone, PA, an illegitimate son of John LANNERS, mason and offspring of a Lanners family from Hoscheid, Luxembourg. Other changes in spelling are likely: The ancestors of Dr. Thomas LANNERS, pianist and professor of piano at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater, OK, appear in the censuses of the early 1900s as LENNARS.

During this same 17th century names with a more or less similar spelling or sounding are known:

  • LANNEN at Kehlen and at Schwebach in1656
  • LANGEN at Beggen and at Dommeldange in 1611
  • LANGES at Beringen in 1653
  • LANGERS at Beggen and at Guirsch in 1656
  • LANSER at Echternach and at Ehnen in1656.

(ANL, Ed. Oster: Noms de famille aux 14e-17e siècles)

In the census of fireplaces (households) of 1656 organised by the Conseil Provincial, the civil authority in that time, in order to establish an overview of the population and its material condition after the devastations of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), a LAMMERS Endress (Andrew), daylaborer, is mentioned. This might have been a misspelling of Lanners. He lives in a "Backhaus", which is a small structure with the oven to bake bread, his house having been confiscated (because of non reimbursed debts?) by the lord (from Schuttbourg?). He doesn't own a horse nor a cow and earns one "Malter" (about 150 Liters) of wheat.

(Edouard Oster, Das Feuerstättenverzeichnis des Jahres 1656, Lëtzeburger Bauere-Kalenner 1953-1981, neu herausgegeben von Alph. Wiltgen 2009 p.151)

A relation with people bearing more or less similar names in the center of the country can be excluded. This is not so however with the name LAMMERS in the parish seat Consthum, a few kilometers from Holzthum and just about 20 years before the birth of John James. Is this Lammers a parent of Klesgen, the father of John James, born probably by 1654? Are we ever going to know it? Endress Lammers was so poor that it is most unlikely that he was involved in any notary deed that could possibly be discovered one day.

In Luxembourg there is in 2011 one Lanners family which is not related to the Holzthum Lanners. It is Daniel Lanners who also lives in Cents and who is the owner of the lanners.lu domain name. The Lanners name of this family goes back to 1813 when the children of Petrus Langers who had moved from Hunsdorf to Kopstal were registered as Lanners.

The name LANNERS is however present in England. The 1901 census shows 26 LANNERS and marriages with Lanners partners are documented up to the present. The origin of the English LANNERS has still to be found out and the etymology of the English name is still to be researched, but we can admit until better evidence that there is no link with Luxembourg. English LANNERS are found on US immigrant lists and we have therefore to assume that among the numerous US LANNERS there are also many descendants of these English immigrants. The internet site Worldnames gives an idea on how the LANNERS are spread around the world. The list of passengers that entered through the port of New York from 1820 to 1957 shows about 140 LANNERS, of which 14 declared to be of British citizenship, 15 Belgian, 37 German and none Luxembourgish. The 31 LANNERS that according to the author’s information have emigrated to the US are to be found probably under the German label. This is by the way a citizenship they often indicated at immigration.

Meaning/Formation

The name Lanners does not appear in any French, Belgian or German onomastic reference book. This is not surprising, as the name, although being linguistically Germanic, is not very much present in Germany. Almost all bearers identified in that country can be traced back to the Holzthum roots. Indeed the surname mapping tools now available on the Net, such as Geogen, show the name only in areas of Germany where the author has identified more or less remote cousins.

So LANNERS is a truly Luxembourgish name, if we assume that the English bearers of the name are not related.

Trying to explain the formation of the name, Emile Erpelding proposes two answers:

  1. A derivation of the first name Leonard, which has given the family names LENERS and LENNERS. The change from the vowel "e" to "a" is however linguistically doubtful and has been excluded by Cristian Kollmann in a communication to the author 28.9.2011.
  2. As many town names have given family names, the village of LANNEN in the center of the country could be considered. A young man from Lannen could have married a woman in Holzthum, being called "the LANNER", (the one from Lannen), it being noted that the formation of family names was still going on in those years. This alternative cannot be excluded, but it is not very likely that a man from the center of the country should have settled in Holzthum, a miniscule hamlet with only 2 houses. On the other hand, a godfather from Schandel, a village as distant as Lannen, is documented in 1693.

    (BNL, Emil Erpelding : Die Kehrmühle bei Hoscheid, Sapeurs Pompiers Hoscheid 1987)

A third possibility is proposed by François Schroeder.
The lime tree is called in Luxembourgish "LANN". It is a very common and traditional tree in many Luxembourg villages, as it can be seen with the several hundred year old specimen in front of the Feulen parish church. If a "Lann" stood in front of the family home in Holzthum, the farm of Schuttbourg castle where the tenant might have changed from time to time, the inhabitants could have been called "those from the lime tree", in Luxembourgish "LANNESCH".

According to Cristian Kollmann, principal researcher involved in the project of establishing an atlas of family names at the University of Luxembourg, the lime tree (Linde in German) origin is to be favored for the origin of Lanners, due to the exclusively Luxembourgish specificity of the change of “i” to “a” during the evolution of the language. Thus the name of the the village of Lannen evolved from Linden via Lynden to Landen and Lannen. (Dénombrement de feux 1541 p.465). Whether the first Lanners in Holzthum has been an immigrant from Lannen or whether the name was formed locally from a characteristic lime tree “Lann” cannot be reconstituted as there are no sources available for the period before 1679.

© Claude Lanners 2008 - 2012
Last Updated on Monday, 27 February 2012 20:50