Origins of the surname Pfeiffer

Recorded in several ways including Pfiffer, Phifer, Pfeuffer, Pfeiffer, Pfeifer, Pieper, Feifer, and Peifer, this famous German surname is occupational. It can describe either a piper, possibly in the military sense of pipes and drums, although more probably in the general sense of a musician who played the pipes at the various festivals and travelling theatres of the period. Dependent on the spelling, and there are many overlaps, the name can refer to a merchant of spices particularly pepper. The "piper"origination is probably associated with the Roman Invasion of Gaul as far back as the 1st century b.c. The derivation here is from the word "pfeife" meaning to whistle, itself from the Latin "pipa", a pipe. As a pepper merchant, the origin is equally ancient, and certainly back to the 4th century a.d. Not surprisingly this is one of the most ancient surnames recorded, either in Germany or anywhere else. Early examples taken from the authentic registers and charters of Germany include Haintz der Pheiffer of Eblingen in the year 1378, and Claus Pfeffer, a burger of Ravensburg in 1421. The surname is also recorded in forms such as Pfefferer, and Pfefferhart, a "romantic" surname of a type popular in Germany in the post medieval period.The first known recording is believed to be that of Johannes Pipere, in the charters of the city of Bremen, Germany, in the year 1296. --

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