Mystery Monday: Vorklin

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is a German name recorded in Cologne in Latin in the early 13th century. From the ending -lin, it is most likely a diminutive of some sort, but it is not clear what the root name is — unless that r is a scribal or editorial error for l, in which case it would be a pet form of any of various names beginning with Old High German folk ‘people, nation, tribe, race’. But before we declare it that, we’d like to explore all the other possibilities, to ensure that this is not a correct name in its own right.

Do you have any other examples of the name? Any thoughts as to where it might come from? Please share in the comments!



Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

5 responses to “Mystery Monday: Vorklin

  1. Jörg Knappen

    I am on the track of a scribal error, but I’d interpret the “r” as a “c”: Fokke and the like are well-attested short forms of names in Volk-, so I suggest the reading of Vocklin (pronounced like Fokklin).

    See also Foerstemann 1900, entry FUC (column 546), who lists the name form Fukkelin.

  2. Brian M. Scott

    It appears to be a scribal error. Another edition of the document gives the name as Vortliuo, as does another document from 1222. And he apparently sealed as Vortlivus in 1214. He was dean of St Georg in Köln. If that’s correct, the second element is clear enough, but the first is rather less than obvious.

    • Brian M. Scott

      Schreinskarten der Martinspfarre, Kölner Schreinsurkunden des zwölften Jahrhunderts, Quellen zur Rechts- und Wirthschaftsgeschichte der Stadt Köln, Robert Hoeniger, ed., Vol. 1, Bonn, 1884, 11.VI.16, has Cunradus et uxor sua Adelheidis emerunt sibi et heredibus suis erga Fortlievum canonicum; a footnote says that he is probably the dean of St Georg noted above.

      The name appears in this volume (including the various cases) at least as Vortlievus, Vortlievum, Vortlievi, Vortlivus, Vortlivi, Vortlif, Vortlief, Vortliph, Fortlif, Fortlief, Fortlievum, and Fortliph and was clearly borne by several men. So far I’ve found it only in records from Köln and a bit further up the Rhein.

      • Jörg Knappen

        This is an interesting idea, in Fraktur printing it is possible to confuse t and k. This leaves us with the exercise to explain the prototheme FORT. It offers no clear etymologies, and some candidates are:

        1. Distortion of Old High German fart “trip, voyage, journey” (Foerstemann 1900, column 499)
        2. Derived by metathesis from Old High German frod “prudent, sage”
        3. A loan from Latin fortis “strong”, leaving a Romance-Germanic mixture in the name
        4. Derived from Old High German chortar “herdsman, shepherd” with sound shift /ch/ -> /f/ (attested for Low Frankonian in other names like Floduald), hort- is also an attested prototheme (see Foerstemann 1900 column 866)

        Without more data, I daren’t commit on one of the candidates.

      • Jörg Knappen

        I did not discuss a fifth possibility for the name element FORT, namely

        5. fort (adverb) “forth; forward”—because of tis adverbial nature it seems to be unfit for a name element, but Grimm has the verb FORTLIEBEN that may be pertinent to the name, see

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