Jul. 23, 1787

Patent on the Bearing of Certain Surnames by the Jewry, decreed by Emperor Joseph II, Archduke of Austria, King of Hungary & Croatia, King of Bohemia [Present-day Austria, Hungary and Croatia]: “In order to avoid any kind of disorder which usually occurs to some classes of people in political and judicial proceedings and in their private lives if families have no constant surname, and if particular persons have no known given name – the following law is instituted for all our hereditary lands.
§ 1. Jewry in all the provinces should be urged to do the following. Each host of household should adopt a constant surname for his family beginning with January 1st, 1788; whoever is taking care of orphans should do the same for them; also each unmarried man who is not under the care of his father nor any other care – should do the same for himself. An unmarried woman should adopt the surname of her father, and a married woman should adopt the surname of her husband. Every particular person without exception should adopt a German surname and never change it in his or her lifetime.
§ 2. All surnames that have been used in the Jewish language so far – whether originating from a place where someone has always stayed or where he has only stayed for some time, e.g., Schulem Töplitz, Jochem Kollin etc., which were adopted in a common way – should be completely abandoned.
§ 3. By the end of November 1787, the father of each family and each particular person, by means of a note written in German, should inform the local municipality or the local authority of the place where they are permitted to live or stay of the name and surname adopted by them. This declaration, confirmed by an unsealed certificate, signed by the district deputies and by the chief rabbi or district rabbis, should state that now, the given persons have adopted a family surname X forever, together with a particular German given name, and that they descend from Y, and that before they had used a such and such name.
§ 4. From January 1st, 1788, all circumcision books and all birth books without an exception should be composed in German. Also all who are born, marry or die should be put down in the books with their German name and surname adopted forever.
§ 5. The certificates from the local authorities or their clerks, commanded in § 3, should be carefully kept, and shown to the revision officer at the soonest conscription revision. For the first time, i.e., in the year 1788, the latter should write down in German both names: the name that has been used so far, and, after that, the name and surname adopted by the person forever. In the conscription book for the next year, only the newly adopted names should be found.
§ 6. Herewith it is announced that this regulation does not concern in any way the documents made out with the persons’ common surnames until the end of December 1787. These documents will remain invariably valid although they were signed in whatever way.
§ 7. In order to prevent any kind of guile and bring this law to a complete implementation, we institute the following penalties:
   a/ The rabbi who, beginning with January 1st, 1788, will not write down births, weddings, and deaths in the German language and using a constant surname or who will not compose such books in German – will be penalized with a fine of 50 Rhine Zloty for the first time. If he will violate this regulation second time, he will be dismissed from service and regarded unfit for it.
   b/ Every person regardless of his or her sex who, after that day, will not use the name and the surname adopted forever, but will adopt another one will be punished with a fine of 59 Rhine Zloty – if he is well off. If he is poor, he will be expelled together with his family from all our countries. However, if he has any debts or obligations that can be proved, they will keep their validity against him.
   c/ Everybody who will not deliver his certificate by the end of November 1787 as described above will be penalized with a fine of 10 Rhine Zloty – or with the penalty of 8 days’ work for the common good if he is poor.
   d/ Half of the sum of all these fines will be designated to the Jewish domestic fund in each of the countries. The other half will fall to the one who will discover such a deceit and denounce it.”
Handbuch der Gesetze und Verordnungen welche für die Polizei-Verwaltung im österreichischen Kaiserstaate von 1740 – 1852 erschienen sind. [Handbook of Laws and Regulations published for the Administration of Law Enforcement in the Imperial State of Austria] Zaleisky, A. Friedrich Manz, 1854: Vienna. Vol. 2, Accessed online; Researched by Dominik Jacobs 3/2017