This time I want to write something in English to have wider range of my audience. Today I received a very interesting book from Germany. It is Patrick Plew's Ortsfamilienbuch Schönwalde 1608-1767 about the families which lived in a small German-speaking village in East Prussia (today in Kaliningrad Oblast) – Schönwalde (today Jarosławskoje).
About my genealogical research of the earliest Tolkiens you can read on Elendilion (this is the collection of my texts). My general idea is that contrary to J.R.R. Tolkien's own opinion (that the Tolkien family name comes from German tollkühn, meaning "foolhardy"; cf. Tolkien's Letters, no. 349 to Mrs. E. R. Ehrhardt from 8 March 1973) the Tolkiens come from the eastermost part of the German-speaking world, from the region of East Prussia – between Tolksdorf (today Polish Tołkiny) and Schönwalde (today Russian Jarosławskoje) – and their family name is of Baltic Prussian origin (cf. Lithuanian tulkas "interpreter, spokesman"). According to German etymology dictionaries the adjective tollkühn occurs relatively late in 17th century; see DWDS: »tollkühn Adj. ‘sehr kühn, verwegen’ (17. Jh.), mnd. dulkȫne ‘unüberlegt, unbesonnen’ (15. Jh.); vgl. frühnhd. ein toller küner man (16. Jh.). – on the other hand the Tolkien family name in its earliest forms can be traced to 15th–16th century; see Tolkien (Familienname) on GenWiki where it has initial t- (Tolkyn) and not Middle Lower German d- (dulkȫne). In my opinion the Tolkien family name in 15th-century Prussia is not necessarily to be derived from German adjective "fullhardy").
|Today Schönwalde in Russian Kaliningrad Oblast is in sad condition...|
Patrick's Plew's book is a very important source with the earliest attested forms of the Tolkien family name. It occurs in a village Conratswalde (today Russian Konstantinowka) near Schönwalde between 16th and 18th centuries in the forms: Tolckien, Tolkckiehn, Tolckin, Tolkckyn, Tolkien, Tolkihn, Tolkühn, Tollckien, Tollckiehn, Tholkin. See the interesting pages from Patrick Plew's book. So far I cannot establish the connection between these Tolkiens from East Prussia and the oldest known ancestor of J.R.R. Tolkien – John Benjamin Tolkien (1752 - 27 January 1819) whose grave is in Clerkenwell, Greater London, England (see entry on Tolkien Gateway and his grave on FindGrave). But it is possible that in 17th–18th centuries some members of this East Prussian family migrated to other towns and villages in Northern Germany like Hamburg in Lower Saxony.
If you have any questions or suggestions feel free to write them in the comments.