This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 4th November 1996, reproduced by kind permission of the author, the late Desmond Holden.

The “What's in a Name” series was a regular feature in the Advertiser over the period 1993‑2004, taking a refreshing look at the derivation of some typically Derbyshire surnames.

Articles are confined to the origins and meanings of surnames, and do not indicate any particular interest on Desmond's part in the genealogy, descent, or family history of individuals bearing the surnames featured.

Editor's Note: Articles are provided for general interest and background only. They are not intended to provide an exhaustive treatise for any individual family history - investigations of which may yield quite different results. Or, in Desmond's own words:

“In the end it must remain with individual bearers of the names to draw upon family traditions and to seek out such documentary evidence as is available to decide the matter for themselves.”

WHAT'S IN A NAME … Are you called KREUGER?

There are several variations of this name of which "Kruger" is the most frequently encountered and, is in fact, the basic version. Although this name, "Kruger", is of Germanic origin, it could have made its way into this country through any one of several channels: not only Germany but also the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and anywhere in Eastern Europe.

It is an occupational name and can have two meanings: either a manufacturer or trader in jugs and pitchers; or an innkeeper.

As in England the development of hereditary surnames among the Germanic Peoples began about 1150 and by 1500 it had become established. This means that the original bearers of the name "Kruger" (or one of its variations) would almost certainly have acquired it so many years previously, that, in the absence of specific records, it would now be impossible to say whether it was on account of being an innkeeper or a potter.

Even so it is just possible that an itinerant trader in pots and pans might have settled here and become identifies as "Kruger". Still this is most unlikely given that it was usual for such settlers to assume some English equivalent of their names.

How exactly the name "Kruger" evolved is not certain: In Modern German "krug" means "jug" or "pitcher". The older Germanic forms were "kruoc" or "kruog" and it is easy to discern behind them the English words "crock" and "crockery". Corresponding terms are to be found in other languages: "krukke" (Danish and Norwegian); "krukka" (Icelandic); "crochan" (Welsh) and "crocan" (Irish) to list only a few.

This points to a very ancient and remote common origin which is now completely lost. The same source is certainly responsible for the Old English occupational name "Crocker" which still survives as a surname, particularly in the South-West, it seemed, however, already tending to obsolescence even by the Twelfth Century.

Wycliffe's translation of the Bible in 1382 first rendered Jeremiah: Ch. VIII, v.3 as "I came downe to ye house of ye crocker" but as early as 1388 it had been replaced by "potter". A similar distinction seems also to prevail in German where "Topfer" takes on much the same meaning as "Potter".

This distinguishing of terms arises from the fact that a "Kruger" or a "Crocker" were involved in producing the full range of vessels designed for drinking and holding liquids and which were made from a much wider range of materials than clay. In Mediaeval Times everything by way of an object that could be possessed had to be made by hand. Consequently they were not to found in the unlimited numbers that we now take for granted and they were valuable and not easily replaced. Thus preference was shown, where possible, in choosing materials that would survive every-day knock-about usuage. Among items which we now insist on being made in ceramics or glass because they are more hygienic, would have been perfectly acceptable to our ancestors if made of wood, leather or metal.

It follows then that a "Kruger" or a "Crocker" would have been resorted to as the suppliers of, say, leather bootles, pewter cups and wooden containers. All this is now forgotten since the expression "crockery" is now restricted to earthenware.

This limitation seems to have arisen about the end of the 1600's and first appears in Johnson's Dictionary (1755). The alternative meaning for "Kruger" is that of an Innkeeper. It is certainly based on the German "Krug" which signifies "hostelry" but the older forms of the word reveal it to have originated from a different source. Instead of "kruoc" or "krueg" as already mentioned, we find "ketch" or "kroch" and no satisfactory further explanation has yet been found. As an inspired guess - it is put no higher - the name might have arisen out of the fact that Proprietors of such establishments were involved merely in selling drink "out of bottles" as it were, and were not concerned with the reception of travellers.

This emphasis on "bottles" might possibly have arisen from association with the Old German word "kruog" which means "pot" or "bottle" and from which "Kruger" might have emerged. A piece of slender confirming evidence can be adduced by drawing attention to the Old French words "cruee" and the Portuguese "crugo".

Their origins are not certain, but they appear to have been the sources for the German word "Krugchen" which is descriptive of a small vessel designed to hold oil and vinegar, and sometimes water (Eucharistic) and there is the attested counterpart in the English word "cruet" - the item of Table-Ware.

The name is not frequently encountered in these Islands. If anything, there seems to be a slight concentration on Lancashire- Cheshire border, but otherwise even in London and its surrounding Region only 25 entries can be counted up.

The most celebrated bearer of the name is Paul Kruger (1825-1904) the South African Leader. In England there is George Kruger (1880-1904) the artist who designed the coinage for King George VI.

The name is known to us here in Bakewell through our own Bill Kreuger the Chairman of the Bakewell Carnival Committee. The "Peak Advertiser" compliments him on his recent Sixtieth Birthday and offers this feature in compliment.

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From "The Peak Advertiser", 4th November 1996.

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