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FISCHER Family History

The surname Fischer, which occupies fourth place in the list of most popular German surnames, like the other top ten German surnames, is an occupational or ?Berufsname?. This is the age old occupation of the fisherman.

The role of fisherman was particularly important in the Middle Ages when fast days allowed no animal meat to be eaten, and this was ubiquitously replaced in the diet by fish. In German cities fish was sold by vendors at very low prices in the later Middle Ages, so that even the poorest could afford to eat fish. The ?fisher? was, therefore, in great demand.

There is also, of course, the Christian dimension to this trade: the apostles had been fishermen, and the first pope, Peter, the great patron of all fishermen. One of the earliest symbols of Christianity was the fish. The German coat of arms for the Fischer family, as one would expect, contains a fish.

Variants are Fischler, Fischle (Swabian), Fiszer (Czech and Polish). The surname may also be of Ashkenazic Jewish origin. The name is particularly strong around Hannover in Niedersachsen, Hamburg, Berlin, Stuttgart and Munich; but is well spread throughout central and southern Germany.

Many Fischers landed in New York and Philadelphia from the mid 18th century. New York and Illinois had the highest percentage of settlers so named, by the time of the 1920 U.S. Federal Census.

Today the surname Fischer ranks as 419th in the U.S.A. with 70, 095 Bearers. It has often been transmuted into the anglicised form ?Fisher?.

Two Famous Fischers

Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) born in Chicago, was an American Chess player and Worldmaster from 1972-75. His victory in 1972 was over the equally renowned Russian, Boris Spassky. His title was taken over by Anatoly Karpow, another Russian, in 1975.

Kuno Fischer (1824-1907) born as an ethnic German in present day Poland, was a German philosopher and philosophy historian. His liberal ideas won him increasing respect in academic circles. His ideas could be categorised as neo-Kantian, and he established the rationalist (knowledge derived form pure principles) versus empiricist (knowledge derived from sense experience) criterion to classify 17th and 18th century philosophers, such as Descartes (rationalist)/ Hume (empiricist).

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