The name Hemminga

Whence the name? Several theories have been found:

1. Many thought the imperial decree of 1811 was stupid, and/or thought the whole French regime was worthy only of contempt, and registered frivolous names. It is suggested that "Hemminga" is such a name, derived from "hemmen" - as in to clear one's throat.

2. Cousin Ben Hemminga has another suggestion, created from Herkomst en Betekenis van Nederlandse namen (Origin and Meaning of Dutch Names):

hem (or ham) = land circled by a dyke, near water
ing = the people who lived in a specified territory
ga = A Frisian small village with surrounding territory

So: Hemminga would be for people who lived in a village protected by a dyke and near water.

3. Cousin Klaas Bekkema has a simpler form: a "hemmen" is land protected by a dyke. Just north of Beetsterzwaag is the village Kortehemmen - a short dyked area. Most of the modern Hemmingas originated in or near Kortehemmen, and are from the hemmen - Hemminga.

4. From Fryslan Side :

Surnames ending on -inga are the oldest. The ending -ing means "belonging to" or "related to" the person named in the name before. (In linguistic terms, -inga is a genitive plural ending in medieval Fries, which is in the same language group as Saxon. In terms of meaning, it is the same as the -s used to form patronymics.) Thus, HEMMINGA would be someone related to Hemme. This source for the name appears to apply to the Groningen line, where the son of Jan Abels Hemmes (a double patronymic) registered the name Abel Jans Hemminga in 1812.

5. The Danes (Viking, Normans) were active along the entire coast of the Wadden Sea (which includes all of Friesland), and Hemming is a common name - even today in Denmark. Other places where the Vikings settled have people named with variations: Hem(m)ingway, Hemmings. Perhaps Hemminga is simply the Frisian version of Hemmings.

While no specific references to a Hemming in Friesland have been found, there is one from elsewhere in the Netherlands: Hemming, a brother or son of the Danish King Herold was denied accession to the throne by his brother or son. He was then granted land on the island of Walcheren (now part of Beveland, Zeeland) by Emperor Louis the Pious (son of Charlemagne). Hemming died in war against the Danes on 17 June 837.

6. Sipke Hoekstra, a Hemminga descendant, suggests that it is possible that the original derivation is from old Frisian, meaning leather things: "hem-m-inge, hem-ing, afries., st. F. (æ): nhd. Lederzeug; ne. leather things; Hw.:vgl. ae. h’mming; E.: s. germ. *hamæ-, *hamæn, *hama-, *haman, sw. M. (n), Hülle, Haut; vgl. idg. *¨em- (3), V., bedecken, verhüllen, Pokorny 556; L.: Hh 39a, Hh 42a, Hh 159" [Köbler, Gerhard: Altfriesisches Wörterbuch 2. Auflage, 2003, page 211; published on Internet at http://www.koeblergerhard.de/afrieswbhinw.html]

For more on name origins and formation, check the Marteens Institute site.

last update 12 March 2008

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