The Origin of the Remus Name

There are two theories on the German origin of the Remus name. Here they are:

Theory 1: In his book "Deutsche Sippennamen" (German clan names), Albert Heinze attributes Rehm (Rem) to the gothic ragin which means to stand out, to protrude, to rule. He then assumes that Remus is the Latinized form of the name Rehm; that is, take Rehm and add the us (an ending usually given to a male person or noun). There are records of people using the name Rehm in the 1300's.

Theory 2: In his book "Deutsches Namenlexicon," Hans Bahlow argues that Remus is not a German family name even though a lot of Germans carry this family name. He believes that the Remus family name comes from the Latin Remus (from Remus and Romulus, founders of Rome) and was an adopted name.

Plus another theory on the Polish origin of the Remus name:

Theory 3: In his book "Polish Surnames: Origins and Meanings," William F. Hoffman states that the Polish Remus family name was based on either the name of the Catholic saint Rhegius (Bahlow above thought this was a possibility for Germans too) or Remisz which is short for Jeremiasz or remisz/remiz which is a "singing tit" (kind of bird)

Evidence on the Origin of the Remus Name

German genealogists say that the first recorded use of the Remus surname was by Aegidius Remus (born in as Aegidius Rem in 1499 in Augsburg); Aegidius was to become the Bishop of Chiemsee (a Bishopic half way between Munich and Salzburg) from 1526 to 1536. This was during the time of the Protestant Reformation and Aegidius worked until his death to reform the Catholic Church in the Archbishopic of Salzburg (click here for a lot more on the life of Aegidius Remus).

The family name Remus appears in Grossenhain and Bischofhain Saxony in the mid 1500's. A look at the Lutheran church book of Grossenhain shows the inconsistent use of Remus as a family name and shows the switching back and forth to Reim and other variations. From this I take it that the name had not yet stabilized as Remus. The children of Kantor (choirmaster or teacher) Martin Remus of Grossenhain appear in that church book; their Christian names Martin, Christian, Georg, Johan, and Peter. These Remus family Christian names continue to be widely used into the 1800's in West Prussia. One direct link to West Prussia is Martin Remus' son Martin Remus moved to Danzig (see below).

The most famous Remus of the era was the Vice Chancellor of University of Altdorf named Georg Remus (died August 15 1625) in the relatively nearby Nuremberg. His most famous publication was the codification of German law written with Charles V, The Holy Roman Emperor. Georg Remus' ancestors were from the Rem family of Augsburg.

These early Remus family members were associated with the church in one way or another. (Deutscher Geschlechterbuch, Volume 62, page 451).

So we see Remus as the Latinizing of the German name Rem for Bishop near Munich, for a Chancellor in Nuremberg, and for a Kantor in Grossenhain providing evidence for Theory 1 above by Albert Heinze. There is no evidence that it is an adopted name as suggested by Bahlow in Theory 2 above.

In Poland, there may well be two sources of the name Remus. One is the German Latinizing of Rem as descendents of these early Remus families of southern Germany migrated to northern Poland in the 15th, 16th and 17th century as is described above. But also there may be an independent origination of Remus from Polish sources. This is particularly likely in Kaschubia in northern Poland where the most important early literary source in Kaschubian is "The Adventures of Remus."

Please send any queries to Bill Remus at


October 8, 2006