The present decree, promulgated July 23, 1787, required that all Jews adopt clear surnames and German given names “in order to avoid the kind of disorder which usually affects some classes of people in political and judicial proceedings, and in their private lives, when families have no fixed surnames and individuals have no recognized given names.” While the given names had to be German ones, no such stipulation was made with respect to the surnames, as long as they were not Yiddish names or names of cities, e.g., Schaulem Töplitz and Jochem Kollin. The Jews of the empire were to present signed statements to their local authorities in order to register their newly chosen names by the end of November 1787 and were obliged to begin using these names by January 1, 1788 under penalty of fine (or expulsion, if the fine could not be paid). Moreover, district rabbis were required to keep all records of births, circumcisions, marriages, and deaths in the German language and using the new names. The decree applied throughout the empire, but the present document was aimed specifically at the Jews of Transylvania and signed by its local authorities.
Leopold Löw, “Die Schicksale und Bestrebungen der Juden in Ungarn, seit dem eilften Jahrhunderte bis auf unsere Zeit,” Kalender und Jahrbuch für Israeliten auf das Jahr (1847) 5607 (Vienna: Franz Schmid, 1846): 84-104, at pp. 94-96.
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