Tag Archives: How can you tell if your German ancestors were Jews?

Court Jews – “Hofjew” Could Play a Role in Your Ancestry Search


During the Middle Ages, when Jews were denied access to trade guilds, they became dominant in finance and business, especially for the courts. This caused envy among other Jews whose lives were in sharp contrast. A fierce debate goes on to this day but the history of the “Hofjew” could play a role in your ancestry search, particularly if you see any clues in your genealogical tree. One Dutch surname is “Brengerhof.” In German, Hof means “farm or yard.” Court Jews were called “Hofjuden,” and whether there was intent to insult by association with a farm, similar to the derogatory “Marrano/Swine” name during the Inquisition, I have not heard but in the Netherlands “hof” meant “court” and the main messenger of this court was called a “Brenger.” If your surname is “Brengerhof” or “Brinkerhoff” I would consider following the Jewish research trail. In England the expression was “Court Jew” and in Latin “Feret” means to “bear, bring, carry off, consider, get, produce, receive, tell, speak of or win.” This class of Jews were granted “protection” because they were accountants, clerks, tax collectors, etc. who provided excellent service to the local government.”

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors, Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians, Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees, Secret Genealogy V– Black, White and Hamite; Ancestors of Color in Our Family Trees and Secret Genealogy VI – Freemasons, Jewish Conquistadors and the Holy Family. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/0965114082

Secret Genealogy II:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1484053222

Secret Genealogy III:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/148407579X

Secret Genealogy IV:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500756105

Secret Genealogy V: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HJ622DU

Secret Genealogy VI: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY35VCP