First of all ... some general remarks on the origin of family names:

The general rule for the interpretation of a last name: Family names since around the 12th / 13th Century developed from nicknames. Originally, people had only one name, the nickname. People were differentiated with a nickname. This title initially relating only to one person could be transferred to the following generations and are gradually solidified into a hereditary surname. Depending on the what is contained in the name, information about the bearer of the surname are divided into five main groups. The title refers to either:

  1. a nickname (usually the father of the person), or
  2. the profession (or at office or state), or
  3. the place of origin, or
  4. the abode of the person,
  5. that relate to specific real or physical or mental peculiarities of person or abnormalities and features of his behavior, his clothes, his professional life, etc..

This statement applies equally to German family names as well as the surnames of most European countries and language communities.

The five groups above capture the entire vocabulary of the language. Any personal, local, and locality name, every noun, adjective and each linguistic utterances as expressions or prompts could be used as a nickname. It should be noted that a title, at least at the time of its creation, had a meaningful and understandable meaning, the interpretation of the title has therefore to be of contemporary words and names. Since words over the centuries, including their phonetic form which may change their meaning, in our language area of Middle High German and Middle Low German forms and meanings are regarded paramount while respecting regional and dialectal peculiarities.

Marquart is a common name in Germany.

On my telephone CD-ROM there are around 1020 entries with this name; an average of 2.8 persons per telephone line. (As an occurance I find the name more than 1,000 and less than 10,000 occurrences. The vast majority of names are considerably rarer. Most of the approximately 550,000 German family names are carried by less than 25 people!)

Besides Marquart there are a number of other family names have similar spellings and are all to be regarded as different spellings of the same name. Marquart is among these variants. The second most common form and by far the most common spelling is Marquardt with around 9,200 telephone numbers. The next positions are occupied by
Marquard (735),
Mark Wart (425),
Markwardt (410),
Mark Worth (315),
Markwort (170),
Marckwardt (115) and
Marquordt (110).
All other variants are considerably rarer.

Marquart is assigned with the certainty of the above list and thus goes back to a nickname which was made into a family name. It is based on the Germanic first name Mark Ward. The two elements Mark meaning 'border', 'border area' or 'land' (Old High German marca, Old Saxon marka)' and Ward meaning 'guards' or 'custodians'.

This nickname was fairly popular in the medieval period, Marcuuard it is used from the year 800.

A translation of the entire name leads in the case of Mark Ward indeed to a meaningful meaning ('border guard' or 'Country Guardian').

The principle of the two part nickname has been inherited by the Germans from Indo-European times, the old nickname of the Greeks, Celts, Slavs, Balts, Indians, Iranians, etc. were formed in the same way by combining two root elements. It is reasonably certain that the composite name originally, in prehistoric times, always made sense. The elements were used to create a call name but were later in historical time were also combined without overall meaning so that "nonsensical" names such as Hildegund ('war' + 'war'), Liebhart ('dear' + 'hard'), Heribrand ('army' + 'sword'), Siegfried ('victory' + 'peace'), Wolfram ('wolf' + 'raven'), etc. were common. The reason for this is mainly due to the fact that a larger number of element names were no longer understood and the call name was formed without meaning purely by mechanical combination.

The mark- name element is used in about two dozen names and thus is classified as relatively less used while well over 100 names are formed using ward. Both name strains are virtually identical in High and Low German. Originally in Ward there is a difference in the final letter (high German -t vs. Low German -d). Since Middle Low German time the entire language area carried out so-called lifted devoicing. The ending sound -t is transformed -d (-k to -g and also -b to -p).

Since Middle High or Middle Low German time the nickname Markwart was found in the entire German-speaking region.

Of this form all the following spelling variations are present:

  1. Interchange of -d (Marquard, Mark Ward, etc.) to keep the original German spelling, especially with respect to the case of Auslauts, be regarded historically. Ie., the nouns 'land', 'hund', etc., whose endings with -d are pronounced -t.
  2. Second -dt and -tt (Marquardt, Markwardt, Marquartt etc.) are variants of -t or -d (see. Schmid, Schmidt, Schmitt).
  3. 3rd -th (Marquarth, Markwarth etc.) is usually variant of -t, -d rare.
  4. -ckw- and -gw- (Marckwardt, Margwardt etc.) are variants of -kw-.
  5. The forms with vowel -o- (Marquordt, Mark Worth, etc.) reflect a regional pronunciation -wart as word. These pronunciation variants are especially common in the regions of East Falia / Saxony-Anhalt.
  6. -qu- is from the Latin spelling of the name Mark Wart. The letter W did not occur in Latin. The letter K existed only in a few words so the name was written in Latin texts as Marquardus (-us = Latin ending).

Since up into modern times, records were usually written in Latin, the common spellings translated with -qu- (Marquart / Marquard, etc.) result in the number of occurrences with -qu- spellings of the family name exceeding the more primitive forms with -kw by tenfold.

The name Mark Wart could be seen in this form as well as in all dialect and font variants as a title. The nickname originally referred to was name of the father of the person. If for example, as Akenl Elbe in 1335 wrote, 'Heydekinus Marc Word was the first bearer of the name of the title in his family. It was someone named Heidekin (= diminutive of the nickname Heidenreich), whose Father was Mark Ward. Heydekinus Marc Word was thus shortened for the fuller expression "Heidekin, son of Marc Word"'.

To determine the original home of a family name, the name of geography provides a most significant contribution because for countless names, their origin from a particular area is documentary evidence, which can show that the bearer of the name, many centuries after the formation of the name, still predominantly live in the region. In the case of Mark Warden for this research the geographic aids are limited because the name was practically the same in the entire German-speaking area and was popular everywhere.

The geographic locations are most informative about the home of certain spellings of the name. It was noted that the case Marquart has a clear center in the area Württembergl Schwaben and a slightly weaker occurrence in the Munich area. Thanks to the frequency of the name, Marquart is almost everywhere, especially in the urban areas (Rhein-Main / South Hessen / North Baden / Rhineland / Ruhr), rural Marquart has especially spread in Bavaria, Franconia and Saxony.

From these findings it can be concluded that the spelling Marquart has prevailed particularly in southern Germany. The statistical probability that a family of this name is originally from this area, therefore, is quite high. More accuracy could only be provided by family history research.

The occurrence of the name with about 3,000 name sources indicates unambiguously that the case of many Marquart independent cases is considered a statistical rule of thumb that up to 400 people trace to a common ancestor to which today's Marquart families are related. But only family history research could prove this.

It should also be mentioned that the surname Marquardt (Mark Ward, etc.) may occasionally include as origin of place name Marquardt Osthavelland / Brandenburg. The spelling of the place name has the same variants as the call or family name (z. B. in 1708 Marquard and Marckward) in earlier centuries. This interpretation is only for families that came from this region. The many other places whose names contain the nickname Mark Ward such as Mark Wart village, Marquard castle, Marquartstein etc., can not be the basis of the family name.

In summary, the family name Marquart is a German name that originated from the Germanic given name Mark Ward.

Basically the case Marquart can be found in all the German-speaking countries, the name of today's geography makes an origin from the region of Upper Bavaria / Swabia / Württemberg particularly likely.

Research produced by:
Namenberatung 2005
Dr. Winfried Breidbach