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 The surname Cordes is most commonly associated with Germany, Belgium, France and Spain. There are many variations in spelling and not all are related. Most Cordes families in the United States come from Germany but many of them have family histories that claim French or Spanish origins. There have been many migrations in Europe since the Middle Ages when surnames appeared, most notably the Crusades and the Morisco,  Sephardic and Huguenot diasporas, so it cannot be assumed that all Cordes families in Germany are of German origin or all Cordes families in France are of French origin. In most cases paper trails only go back at most to the late 1600's. The only way to sort out these different origins and try to establish family groups is through YDNA comparison.

(Jul 3, 2015) I have discovered on some Polish genealogical sites that Kordas, Kordes, Kortas and Cortas are also claimed as Polish surnames.  And I have long been intrigued by the Qortas (قورطاس) (now also spelled Kortas and Cortas) brand of products such as rosewater or orange flower water in Middle Eastern markets. See the comments on German Cordes for the Polish claimed derivation of the name.  As for the Arabic and Turkish Qortas/Kortas/Cortas name it is found in several Arab countries that were once under Ottoman Turkish rule.  The Ottoman Empire received many Sephardic and Moro refugees in the period of diaspora following the Alhambra Decree issued by Ferdinand and Isabella in 1492 expelling those Muslims and Jews who would not receive baptism Judging from given names associated with this version of the surname it is generally an Islamic name.  However, historical sources suggest that many Sephardic refugees in the Ottoman Empire were assimilated into the Islamic culture just as many were assimilated into Catholic and Protestant culture in Europe.  The similarity between this surname and the Cordàs spelling of Cordes in the Southern French Occitan language is interesting

This project was begun primarily as a result of postings on genealogical sites by four Cordes men from the U.S., Canada and Australia who had traced their families back to Germany but who had family stories claiming origins in France and Spain.  Three of us, including myself, were able to verify our lineage back to the Kingdom of Hanover, now Niedersachsen, but in spite of these family stories no connection to France or Spain was found.  German genealogists, amateur and professional, seem very skeptical of any story that takes Cordes lineages out of Germany; for them the origin of the name in Germany comes from men named Conrad, or Cord (Kurt) in Northern Germany, who had sons who in turn were referred to as Cords son, Cord's son or Cordes son: for example, if Cord had a son named Hinrich, this Hinrich would be known as Hinrich, Cordes Sohn, and then eventually simply Hinrich Cordes.  So the surname Cordes evolved in this way in German-speaking territories with no connection to any other areas of Europe where the surname Cordes coincidentally occurred.  In the days of genealogical research before the internet, my cousin and I were able to trace our lineage through baptismal and marriage records found for us by pastors and church secretaries in churches in Benton County, Missouri and Ottersberg and Verden, Germany on the road from Bremen to Hamburg. 
My personal origins in Benton County, Missouri and Ottersberg, Lower Saxony/Kingdom of Hanover (before coming from Southern France?):                                                                                                                                                                                
                                 Image result for holy cross lutheran church cole camp mo                                                         Inline image 1

                Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Cole Camp,                                               Ottersberg, Lower Saxony,
                Benton County, Missouri                                                                              (Niedersachsen), Germany

                       Inline image 1

   Fischerhüde, artist colony, Ottersberg                                                    Fischerhüde

 Records were quite well maintained and we were able to go as far back as the mid 1600's with the assurance of researchers that we had no ties to any place other than the heaths of Northern Germany.  This was the end of the story as far as they were concerned.  Almost nothing had been written in English about the Cordes surname in Germany, but there was a well-known Cordes family in colonial South Carolina with documented origins in Southern France not far from the village of Cordes, and there were references to the Cordes surname in books of heraldry which identified two or three Cordes lineages in Belgium and France with descriptions of family crests, but no evidence was available to suggest any ties between these families and the Cordes families of Germany. Parish records in Lutheran churches in Northern Germany have been meticulously preserved as far back as the late and middle 1600's, so many Cordes families in Germany are able to establish pedigrees dating to the mid 17th century.  However, due to religious wars, in particular the destructive 30 Years' War from 1618 to 1648 when areas of Germany vacilated between Lutheranism, Calvinism and Catholicism, it is difficult to establish a pedigree dating to much beyond 1600, except in the case of ruling noble families whose lineage is recorded in history. Mention is made in several sources of Cordes Huguenot refugees in Lüneburg, Mecklenburg, Verden, Emden and Hamelin beginning in the late 1500's, but I have not yet found a pedigree that bridges the gap between Huguenot Cordes émigrés and later German Cordes pedigrees.

Realencyklopädie für protestantische theologie und kirche : Herzog, J. J. (Johann Jakob), 1805-1882  Sechsehnter Band Preger-Riehm

(Volume 16 Preger-Riehm)  See Refuge: pp 522-536 for a concise résumé of the arrival and establishment of the first French Protestants in Germany.

There does not seem to be a great deal of interest amongst fellow bearers of the Cordes surname in discovering their origins; in my case family lore was lost with my grandfather who died before I was born, and who, though raised in a German-speaking community, claimed origins in France;  my aunts' and uncles' answers to my questions about this family mystery were always  'that all happened in the Old Country, we are in America now.' followed by a laugh about the 'old man'; German fathers were apparently not too popular with their children in the early 1900's.   So I would welcome information from anyone who could lead me to an unturned stone.

If the Cordes surname seems to be shrouded in mystery, one thing is absolutely clear.  There is no evidence that the Cordes surname has anything to do with the village of Cordes (Cordes-sur-Ciel in tourist language since the 1990's) in the Languedoc region of Southern France, except that Cordes was a popular place name in Medieval France after the city of Cordoba in Andalusia, recaptured by Ferdinand of Castile in 1236. (My father and I visited Cordes in 1969 in a driving rain, and were assured by the mayor's office that there was no record of anyone named Cordes in the village archives; he showed us a letter from a Cordes man from Florida who had written to ask the sames questions we had).  The name of the village in the Occitan language of Languedoc is Còrdas, which would be pronounced Cor'-duss, not Cord as it is pronounced today in France.  There is also another town in the same region named Cordes-Tolosannes.

If your surname is Cordes this may be near where you ancestors are from but the surname Cordes does not derive from these towns and may predate their establishment:

La cité médiévale de Cordes-sur-Ciel                 

Cordes (Cordes-sur-Ciel), department of                                                        Cordes-Tolosannes, department of Tarn-et-Garonne,
Tarn, Languedoc, France                                                                                 Languedoc, France

(though there are today Cordes families in this region, their relationship to these two towns comes from a shared reference to Cordoba in Andalusia, Southern Spain, or perhaps from the fief of the Crusader Viscount Raimond de Turenne.  The Huguenot Cordes family was from nearby Mazamet at the time of émigration though their exact origins before the 1600'a is not known)

Here is what I have been able to find so far. Any new information is welcome:

First: various histories of areas which are now in Germany, such as Braunschweig, Bremen, Mecklenburg and Hanseatic cities such as Hamburg, Lübeck and Riga all have references to various sons of various unrelated men named Conrad, or Cord, these sons being referred to as Johann, Cord's Sohn, or Heinrich, Cordes Sohn, etc.  There are several such 'Cordes Sohn' as early as the 14th and 15th centuries before surnames were in common usage as they are today. I have not personally found a 'Johann, Cordes Sohn' or a 'Heinrich, Cordes Sohn' referred to in the same writing as Johann Cordes or Heinrich Cordes with Cordes being used as a surname, but German genealogists speak with authority. Some  Polish genealogy sites, howener claim Kordas, Kordes, Cortas, Kortas etc. as a Polish surname based on the nickname for sword or, according to, Kortas is a Polish surname deriving from a nickname based on the 'dialect verb kortač to plow over a second time, also to tan somebody's hide.' Given the fluidity of the Polish-German border over many years and the German predilection for order and uniformity, it is quite possible that some German Cordes families are descendants of Polish Kortas/Cortas/Kordas/Kordes families. In the 1500's, in Hansetic cities we find Cordes men apparentlz from Antwerp and Amsterdam, not of German origin.  

There is, however, a source which identifies at least one Hamburg Cordes family of the late 1500's and early 1600's as coming from Spain by way of the Netherlands.

 In Die hamburgishen Oberalten, ihre bürgurlichen Wirksamkeit und ihre Familien,  by F. Ge Buek, p. 166, is found the family of Johann Cordes:

'Die Familie soll aus Spanien nach den Niederlanden und dort nach Hamburg gekommen sein.  Schon zu Ende des 16 Jahrhunderts, 1565 bis 1600, kommen Johann, Paridom, und Johann als Englandsfahrer vor.'
(The family apparently came from Spain to the Netherlands and from there came on to Hamburg. Around the end of the 16th century, 1565 to 1600, appear Johann, Paridom and Johann of the English Trading Company(?)

We have a male descendant of this family in the project with YDNA R1b whose family tradition holds that their origins are in Spain.

Also in the above referenced book there is another Cordes family which pre-dates the above 'Spanish' Hamburg Cordes family and the two seem to be unrelated.  However, with the Cordes name found in the 1400's and 1500's in so many of the ports under the influence of the Hanseatic cities from Antwerp to Lübeck and Riga, it would be difficult to affirm that the other Hamburg family is positively of German origin.


      Hamburg by night                                                                                 Hamburg in 1895


Second: another possible place for people with the Cordes surname to look for their lineage is in Belgium where there is also a village named Cordes and where the noble de Cordes family has existed since the early 1200's.  The genealogy of this family has been researched extensively and is recorded in several genealogical records written in French and Flemish in the 17th and 18th centuries.  It was the family crest of this de Cordes family that was offered to many Cordes households in the U.S. in the 1970's with the disclaimer that it was not intended to be a proof of individual family lineages. It is possible, though I don't know how likely, that some Cordes families outside Belgium are descended from this lineage. In the 1570's, some of these de Cordes who were living in Antwerp intermarried with the Protestant van Bomberghen family, and with the fall of Antwerp to Catholic forces  they were forced to migrate, some to Hamburg where there are many Cordes households today. The possible connection between this Belgian de Cordes family and present day German Cordes families is so far undocumented and purely conjectural.

Handel tussen Rusland en de Nederlanden, 1560-1640: een netwerkanalyse van ...
 By Eric Henk Wijnroks

  p 77 note 52 documents the marriage of Jacob  de Cordes to Kathline de Berny who it seems from the note was the daughter of Fernando de Bernuy and Lisbeth van Bombergen. This note gives no evidence of connection to the de Cordes family mentioned here. All that I can say is that both of these de Cordes families were living in Anvers/Antwerpen, now Belgium, at that time
Spanish Netherlands. 


                                                     Inline image 1                                                                                           Inline image 1

                                   Jean-Charles de Cordes of Antwerp and Amsterdam                                                                       Blason de Cordes of Belgium and Northern France                                                                
                                   Portrait painted by Peter-Paul Rubens

A third possible source for families with the Cordes surname is in the Forez region of France, now mostly in the Haute-Loire and Puy-de-Dome departments in France.  The de Cordès surname in this region also dates back to the 1200's and 1300's. There is a person with the surname Cortas on the tax rolls of St Flour in the region as early as 1380-85 (Occitan Names from saint Flour, France 1380-1385:  Surnames, Sara L. Uckelman).  There is an extensive genealogy of the d'Aboin de Cordes family in several sources, notably ETUDES HISTORIQUES SUR LE FOREZ.  ARMORIAL ET GéNéALOGIES DES FAMILLES QUI SE RATTACHENT à L'HISTOIRE DE SAINT-ETIENNE Où AUX CHRONIQUES DES CHÂTEAUX ET DES ABBAYES by M. de la Tour-Varan, 1854. (Historical Studies of the Forez Heraldry and Genealogies of the Families Associated with the History of St Etienne or the Chronicles of the Castles and Abbeys). The genealogy of the d'Aboin de Cordes family is recorded through 10 generations from the early 1400's to 1782.  The author laments that this family was one of the best and oldest families of the Forez but the documents that prove this were burned by the Huguenots.  In 1560 Georges d'Aboin, 5th generation,  married Marthe de Cordes, only child and heir of 'the noble' Denis de Cordes. lord of the said region. Given their apparent enmity with the Huguenots it seems unlikely that any of their descendants would have found their way to Lutheran North Germany. The French spelling of the name often uses the accent grave on the e, Cordès, in order to preserve the pronunciation of the second syllable, similar to the pronunciation of the name in English and German speaking countries.  There is a Château de Cordès near Orcival, France, in this region which was in the hands of the Chalus family for several centuries.  The Chalus de Cordès family encountered political difficulties in the mid 17th century and some members of the family were tried and convicted in absentia. Though this family were châtelains of the château de Cordès, Cordès, strictly speaking, was not their actual surname.  It is possible that someone of this family made it to Germany but that is conjecture.

                            Inline image 1

Château de Cordès, Orcival,  Puy-de-Dôme department, historical province of Auvergne

A fourth source to consider is in Southern France in Languedoc and Provence.  One branch of this de Cordes family has origins in Catalonia at least as early as 1492.  In February 1493 the patriarch, Ferrand de Cordova whose name became de Cordoue and finally de Cordes migrated from Catalonia to Aurons near Salon-de-Provence in the region around Avignon. This family was ennobled in the mid-1500's and was involved in the political and religious strife of the late 1500's and early 1600's.  Though allied with the Catholic League some members of the family were reported to have given refuge to 'Lutherans' among whom were cousins to the de Cordes family, the Pauls or St Pauls, converts from Judaism to Catholicism ca. 1512, and ultimately to Lutheranism in the the late 1500's.  I will leave one to draw one's own conclusion regarding the origins of these de Cordes, cousins of the Jewish St  Pauls, and who left Spain shortly after the Alhambra Decree explelling Muslims and Jews from Spain. These Cordes men were also involved in the conflicts between different political factions vying for control of the monarchy in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

From the following source:

Dictionnaire de la noblesse, contenant les généalogies, l'histoire & la chronologie des familles nobles de France... by François Alexandre Aubert de La Chesnaye-Desbois (Jan 1, 1770)

— CORDES. Suivant l'Auteur du Nouvel Armoriai de Provence, Tome s, page 280, il paroît par les certificats que cette Famille a produits, qu'elle est originaire d'Espagne, où elle portoit le nom de Cordoue, qui a été converti en celui de Cordes.

FerRand De Cordoue accompagna Jean Ferrìer, Espagnol de nation, lorsqu'il vint remplir le Siège archiépiscopal d'Arles en 1493.

Antoine De Cordes , I. du nom, son fils, épousa à Salon Demoiselle Antoine de Cadenet, vers l'an 1520, &C en eut

Antoine De Cordes, II. du nom, Seigneur en partie d'Aurons par l'acquisition qu'il fit de cette Terre en 1568. II fut Gouverneur de la ville & forteresse d'Entrevaux, & créé Chevalier de l'Ordre du Roi le 17 Avril 1593. II se signala dans les guerres de la Ligue, & mourut à son château d'Aurons, où il fut assassiné avec quatre de ses serviteurs, par les Gens de guerre de la garnison de Salon. II laissa de Jeanne de la Roque, qu'il avoit épousée par contrat du 14 Mai 1553 : — 1. Jean De Cordes , Seigneur d'Aurons, qui fut Gouverneur d'Entrevaux par démission de son pere en 1574. II fut marié deux fois , i°. le 7 Avril 1581 , à Françoise d'Etienne, fille de Jean, Seigneur de Saint-Jean, & d''Antoinette dt Meyran; & 20. le 4 Août 1596 , à lsabeau de Paul-de-Lamanon. Il fit son testament le 28 Mai 1609, en faveur de Noble Horace De Cordes, qu'il avoit eu de sa première femme. Jean De Cordes, issu de sa seconde, fut fait légataire. L'un & l'autre moururent sans postérité ; — 2. & Jacques, qui fuit.

Jacques DE Cordes épousa en 1598 , Marguerite de Roux, des Seigneurs de Lamanon. II eut de ce mariage Jean, dont la branche est éteinte, & Honoré, qui fuit. v

Honoré De Cordes fut marié à M.... de la Maison de Rojset, des Seigneurs d'Aurons, dont vint

André-pascal De Cordes , marié i°. par contrat passé devant Tournaire, Notaire à Turriès, le 24 Décembre 1681 , avec Madclcne d'Hugues, fille de Messire David d'Hugues, Baron de Beaujeu, Turriès, Astoin, & autres lieux, Maréchal des camps & armées du Roi ; & 20. par contrat du 11 Décembre 1688, passé devant Fabry, Notaire à Avignon, avec Gabrielle de Sobirajl, fille de Messire Pierre-François de Sobirajl, pere de sept Chevaliers de Malte. II fit son testament, reçu par Fermier, Notaire au Vernegues,le premier Septembre 1736. Du premier lit il a laissé: — 1. François, mort saris postérité; & du second : — 2. Louis-André De CorDes , Chevalier 4 Seigneur d'Aurons, Lieutenant-Colonel du Régiment de Dragons de la Ferronaye, fans alliance en 1759; —3,4, 5 & 6. JosephGabriel, Joseph-auguste-jacques, Jacques, & Philippe-françois , dont un marié, & un à l'Oratoire; — 7 & 8. Marie-thérese, & Rose-jeanne. Les armes : d'azur, à un ours d'argent en pied, & tenant de ses deux pattes un monde croifeté dor.

(one day I will translate this.  Not today)

Source : Nobiliaire Universel de France, Tome II, page 6
BnF/Gallica :

CORDOUE, Cordova en espagnol, Corduba en latin, Cordes par corruption, en idiome provençal.
(CORDOUE, Cordova in Spanish, Corduba in Latin, Cordes by corruption in the Provençal dialect)    
Cette famille, noble de sang et d'armes, originaire d'Espagne, est établie en Provence depuis l'année 1493, que Jean Ferrier, aussi espagnol de nation, fut fait archevêque d'Arles, et amena avec lui en France les deux familles espagnoles de Cordova et de Retz.
(This family, of noble blood and crest, native to Spain, is established in France since the year 1493, when Jean Ferrier, also Spanish by nationality, was made archbishop of Arles, and brought with him to France the two Spanish families de Cordova and de Retz)
Tout ce qui atteste l'origine et l'ancienneté de cette famille est extrait :
(All that attests to the origin and antiquity of this family is taken from)
  1. De la Chronique de Provence recueillie par Jean Nostradamus, et imprimée, en 1613, par son neveu César, sur un décret des Etats du pays assemblés à Aix en octobre 1603 ;
  2. De l'Etat de la Provence, par l'abbé Robert, imprimée en 1693 ;
  3. De l'Etat de la France, par M. le comte de Boulainvilliers ;
  4. De l'Histoire héroïque de la Noblesse de Provence ;
  5. Du Dictionnaire de la Noblesse de France, deuxième édition de 1772 ;
  6. Des preuves faites par les chefs des diverses familles nobles de Provence, pour l'assemblée de la Noblesse en 1789.
  1. Ferrand de CORDUBA, en français de CORDOUE, venu d'Espagne avec ledit archevêque d'Arles Jean Ferrier, établit sa famille à Salon, petite ville de Provence, et fut père d'Antoine, 1er du nom.
    (Ferrand de CORDOBA, in French de CORDOUE, coming from Spain with the aforementioned archbishop of Arles, Jean Ferrier, established his family at Salon, a small city of Provence, and was the father of Antoine, the first of the name, i.e. Cordes)
  2. Antoine épousa, le 9 avril 1518, Antoinette de Cadenet, dont il eut Antoine, IIe du nom.
    (Antoine married, the 9th of April, 1518, Antoinette de Cadenet, with whom he had Antoine, 2nd of the name)
  3. Antoine II, seigneur d'Aurons, gouverneur de la forteresse et de la ville d'Entrevaux, alors place frontière de Provence, reçut, en 1571, du roi Charles IX, le collier de son ordre, non tant en raison de ses services précédents, qu'en considération de ce qu'il était issu d'une famille noble d'Espagne (Chronique de Provence précitée.) Il se signala dans les guerres de la Ligue et mourut en 1589, dans son château d'Aurons, où il fut assassiné, avec partie de ses serviteurs, par les gens de guerre de la ville de Salon. Il avait épousé, le 14 mai 1553, Jeanne de la Roque, de laquelle il eut deux fils:
    1. Jean, qui succéda à son père dans le gouvernement de la place d'Entrevaux, et mourut au siège de Montpellier. Il avait épousé, en 1574, Isabeau de Paul, des seigneurs de Lamanon, dont il eut des fils qui moururent célibataires ;
    2. Jacques, dont l'article suit (1).
      (1) Ce fut durant leur vie que Melchior du Puget, fils aîné d'Antoine du Puget, baron de St.-Marc, Gaspard Mirzarlier, seigneur de Bédéjui, et Antoine Maleinbui, tous trois gentilshommes provençaux revenant d'Italie, déclarèrent par acte reçu Baudouin, notaire à Aix, le 26 février 1611, qu'étant à Naples au mois de juin précédent, ils avaient été priés, par les seigneurs de Cordova, marquis de Sainte-Croix, et dom Loys de Cordova son frère, chevalier de l'ordre de St.-Jean de Jérusalem, de donner à leur retour à Salon, de leurs nouvelles leurs proches parents y établis, étant issus d'un cadet de leur maison, qui alla habiter en ladite ville de Provence. (la Chronique de Provence précitée, fait mention de ce seigneur de Cordova, marquis de Sainte-Croix).
  4. Jacques, seigneur d'Aurons, fut marié le 2 février 1598, à Marguerite le Roux des seigneurs de Lamanon, de laquelle il eut plusieurs enfants. Le seul qui ait fait souche fut Honoré, dont l'article suit :

  5. Honoré, seigneur d'Aurons, épousa, le 16 septembre 1653, Blanche de Rosset, des seigneurs de Tourvieille, dont il eut pour fils :
    1. André-Paschal, dont l'article viendra ;
    2. Louis, qui n'a pas fait souche.

  6. André-Paschal, seigneur d'Aurons, épousa, en premières noces, Madeleine d'Hugues, dont il eut un fils mort célibataire ; Et, en secondes noces, il épousa, le 21 décembre 1688, Gabrielle de Sobiras, fille de Pierre-François de Sobrias et de Marguerite Rémond de Modène. De ce mariage sont issus :
    1. Louis-André, seigneur d'Aurons, lieutenant-colonel du régiment de la Feronnais, dragons, chevalier de Saint-Louis, mort célibataire ;
    2. Joseph-Gabriel, dont l'article viendra, qui a fait une branche devenue l'aînée ;
    3. Philippe-François, qui a fait souche en Poitou, en Normandie et en Amérique ;
    4. Jacques, dont la souche s'est éteinte en Provence ;
    5. Auguste-Joseph-Jacques, mort chanoine du chapitre de Saint-Sauveur d'Aix ;
    6. Rose, mariée, en premières noces, à N*** de Milani ; et, en secondes noces, à N*** de Sannazard ;
    7. Marie-Thérèse, morte abbesse de Sainte-Catherine d'Avignon.

  7. Joseph-Gabriel, Ier du nom, officier de dragons, épousa, le 30 janvier 1728, Marie de Merez, fille d'André de Merez et de Marianne de Chambaud de Bavas, dont il eut, outre plusieurs enfants célibataires :
    1. Joseph-Gabriel, IIe du nom, dont l'article viendra, qui a continué la branche aînée ;
    2. Philippe-Dominique, capitaine dans le régiment de Monsieur, infanterie, chevalier de Saint-Louis, s'étant marié, mais n'ayant point eu d'enfants.

  8. Joseph-Gabriel, IIe du nom, marquis DE CORDOUE, seigneur d'Aurons, comme héritier de feu Louis-André son oncle, chef d'escadron, commandant au régiment de Languedoc, dragons, chevalier de Saint-Louis, marié en 1775, à Geneviève-Claudine le Bault, fille de Jean-Gabriel le Bault, président au parlement de Dijon, et de Jacquette-Jeanne Burteur, n'a laissé en mourant, que deux fils:
    1. Louis-André, dont l'article suit ;
    2. Joseph-Gabriel, marié, en 1805, à Camille-Eugénie-Charlotte Ringharde de Montboissier Beaufort-Canillac, fille de feu Charles-Philippe-Simon de Montboissier Beaufort-Canillac, colonel du régiment d'Orléans, dragons, et de Françoise-Pauline de Lamoignon de Malesherbes, existants.

  9. Louis-André-Jean-Raphaël, marquis DE CORDOUE, marié, en 1799, à Marie-Anne-Julie-Victoire-Caroline Jacquemet de Saint-Georges, fille de feu Jean-Baptiste Jacquemet de Saint-Georges, d'abord officier de dragons, ensuite conseiller au parlement de Grenoble, et de Marie-Antoinette de Chabrières de Peyrins.
Armes : « D'azur, à l'ours d'argent, debout, tenant dans ses deux pattes un monde croiseté d'or. » Sa devise est : Ferme dans l'adversité.

A fifth group, probably linked to the Cordova/Cordoue/Cordes family of Aurons, Salon-de-Provence, is the Cordes family of Mazamet and surrounding areas in Languedoc, Southwestern France.  I have been unable to find any documentation that would directly link these families of Provence and Languedoc, but Antoine Cordes of the Languedoc Cordes family, who first escaped to England and then established a family in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1680's, claimed the same coat of arms as the de Cordes of Salon-de-Provence family, so it might be assumed that they somehow share the same origins in Catalonia, and in fact some of the names associated with this Languedoc Cordes family are Catalonian: De Puech, for example is said to be the same as Puig, a Catalonian couturier.  The following provides the origins of this Antoine Cordes as well as that of other members of the family who were Huguenot pastors and were able to emigrate to Holland, Germany and Switzerland where they established themselves as pastors of Huguenot émigré churches:

Revue historique, scientifique et littéraire du département du Tarn]Société des sciences, arts et belles-lettres du Tarn ...  1912 (A37,VOL29 = SER2,A21)[Revue historique, scientifique et littéraire du département du Tarn]

[Revue historique, scientifique et littéraire du département du Tarn]

[Revue historique, scientifique et littéraire du département du Tarn]

(This, too, will I one day translate.  That day is not today)

These Cordes persons are referred to here as 'réfugiés du pays castrais' or refugees from the region of Castres, Castres being a neighboring city to Cordes and Mazamet.  This does not necessarily mean that this Cordes family was actually from Castres or Mazamet, because the wars of religion of the 1500's and 1600's displaced many Protestant families.  But it is safe to assume that these Cordes originated in the Languedoc-Catalonia area.

The village of Cordes, known as Cordes-sur-Ciel since the 1990's, is in the Languedoc region where one may still find a few families with the Cordes surname.  It is important to remember here, as noted above, that even though today the name is generally pronounced Cord rather than Cor-dus in France, records from the Tarn department in the early 1900's contain some poetry and historical anecdotes written in the Occitain language of Southwestern France.  In these anecdotes Cordes is spelled Còrdas, indicating that the Southern French pronunciation of the name preserved the two syllables, Cor-des, as the name is most often pronounced outside of France today. Again, according to French historical sources, the name Cordes in France, whether referring to the surname or various place names such as the villages Cordes(-sur-Ciel) or Cordes-Tolosannes, or the mount in Provence, owes its origins to Cordova or Cordoba in Spain, the derivation being Cordova-Cordoua-Cordoue-Cordes, Cordes being the Medieval French and Provençal corruption of the original Cordova.

As to the family name deriving from the village of Cordes there are historical descriptions of a château de Cordes existing before the establishment of the village of Cordes by Raymond of Toulouse in 1222, so it also seems likely that the surname Cordes predates the establishment of both Cordes and Cordes-Tolosannes.

Portrait du pasteur Charles Cordès                                 l                                       

Protestant Pastor Charles-Auguste Cordès                                                                   Blason of the de Cordova/de Cordoue/Cordes
Lyon, France, possible descendant of the Cordes                                                         family which emigrated from Catalonia to Aurons
families of Languedoc                                                                                                        (Salon de Provence), France, 1493.
                                                                                                                                                 This coat-of-arms was also used by the family of
The patriarch of this family was Paul                                                                               Antoine Cordes, immigrant in Charleson SC ca.
Cordes, Huguenot pastor who preached                                                                       1685. This would imply that the Cordes of Aurons
in several churches from Mazamet to Nîmes.                                                                 and the Cordes of Mazamet, France are of the same family.
Most of his sons were also Huguenot pastors
forced into exile in Holland and Germany,                                                                                                     
with the exception of Antoine Cordes who
emigrated to Charleston, South Carolina.

      Mazamet, Tarn department, Languedoc, France

                                                                                                                                                      Salon-de-Provence, Provence, France                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
St Bartholomew's Day Massacre, August 24, 1572, massacre of French Protestants by forces of Henri, Duc de Guise and Catherine de Médicis
Fichier:Francois Dubois 001.jpg

Date ca. 1572-84
(Wikipédia, public domain)                                                                                              

A sixth possible cluster of the Cordes surname may be found in the are between northwestern Spain and Bordeaux, in France.  I have not been able to identify the origins of the Cordes of this region and so far cannot determine if they are related to the Languedoc and Provence Cordes families.  This area was formerly the Kingdom of Navarre/Navarra which straddled the border between present-day Spain and France.  There are today some Cordes families in the Bordeaux area.  There are also records of a few Cordes individuals in northwestern Spain and Mexico in the 16th and 17tn centuries.  The only historical reference I can find to the name Cordes in Spain, however, is regarding the village of Cordes/Cordres/Cortes near the city of Tudela, in Navarra.  This is an area that was disputed between Moors and Christians and later between the kingdoms of Navarra and Aragon.  According to some literary critics this Cordres/Cordes/Cortes/Cordoue is the Cordes mentioned in the medieval epic, the Chanson de Roland and certain chansons de geste of the Middle Ages.  Other sources identify Cordes with Cordoba in Andalusia.  It is important to keep this area in mind since there are records in Hamburg documenting the arrival of a Cordes family coming from Spain by way of the Netherlands ca 1590.  There is no mention of France so one might assume that their surname in Spain was Cordes, not Cordova or Cortes. This area of Navarre along with the Cordes near Zaragoza or Lérida in Aragon, are the only places I have found in Spain with a topographical name that could have given us the surname Cordes

It is also important to note here that the Cordes surname can be found in all the seaports associated with the Sephardic and Huguenot diaspora: Marseille, Bordeaux, Lisbon, Venice, Antwerp, Amsterdam, Hamburg and even Mexico and the Philippines.  In all these areas there are Cordes merchants and insurers doing business with notable Sephardic families such as Ruiz and Lopez. 

As for information regarding the origins of the Cordes surname found on surname sites that offer family crests, most of the information I have seen is poorly researched and not reliable, or in other words, simply not true.  I have found no evidence to connect the Cordes surname in France to ropes or rope making; as pointed out above, historical sources in France generally point to Cordoba. Spain as a popular source for place names in France.  There does not appear to be any relation between the Cordes surname in France and Germany with the English surnames Cord and variants McCord, Corday, Corde, Cordee, Cordier and Cordie.  All the instances of Cordes in the United Kingdom that I have seen are descendants of Huguenots or immigrants from Germany.

Research can only piece together historical fragments written about random Cordes individuals around the world. I am hopeful that DNA testing can shed some light on how these different Cordes families fit into the whole picture of the Cordes surname.

Kordes, Kords, Kordu, Cordres and Cordes (June 22, 2015)

The apparent indiffference to the spelling of the name Cordes in German records has baffled me since I began the research of my own origins.  Cordes, Cors, Cohrs, Kordes, Kords are used interchangeably in baptismal reords and other historicals records, sometimes referring to the same person by two different spellings in the same paragraph: Cordes can be Cordes in one sentence and Kordes in the next, or Kohrdes, etc.  But new e-mail queries inspired me to return to the research of the origins of the name, and Lutheran pastors and secretaries turn out not to be alone in their apparent indifference to the spelling of what is intended to be the same name.  In two sources researching the chanson de geste, medieval French epic poetry of the late 12th up to the mid 13th centuries, the most famous being the Chanson de Roland, Cordes is spelled variously as Cordes, Cordres, Kordes, Kords, and Kordu.  What's more, when Cordes is referred to in battle its location is clearly not Cordoba in Andalusia, but a town usually indicated to be  near Zaragoza and Lérida in Aragon, the kingdom bordering on CataloniaThere is some disagreement as to the location of this Cordes, some saying it was in Navarre, the region of the Basques.  Some identify it as Cortes/Cordes, a town on the Ebro or Ebre River which passes through Navarre, Aragon and Catalonia.  This Cortes/Cordes was the medieval fief of the Viscount Raimond de Turenne (1092-1124/27.  Wherever the exact location of the somewhat legendary town or city, this is a place name in Spain that is spelled Cordes and  it is not the Cordoba of Andalusia. And so it would seem that some of the Cordes people of Northern Spain and Southern France might owe their surname to this Cordes and not the Cordes/Cordoba/Cordoue of Southern Spain.  References follow:

Naissance et dévoloppement de la chanson de geste en Europe, Volume 2.  pp 58-59.  by André de Mandach

La Prise de Cordres et de Sebille: chanson de geste du XXIIme siècle;  publiée d'après le manuscrit unique de la Bibliothèque nationale, par Ovide Densusianu. 

Bear in mind with all this that these are names and events taken from epic poetry, not historical accounts and so to what degree they represent actual historical events is uncertain. The point here is that the use of K instead of C and different spellings in French sources shows that these spellings, particularly those with K do not necessarily indicate German origins, and the name Cordes does not necessarily derive from Cordoba in Southern Spain.


One perplexing question remains.  Why the matches of a Cordes from Otterstedt and several Schroeders from Lower Saxony with Lopez and Ruiz of Mexico and a near march with a Kordas from Greece? Do we belong in any of the above groups?

There are accounts of the activities of the Cordes and Paul families of Salon-de-Provence, documenting  that a) Etienne Paul, patriarch of the Paul family, was by profession a 'corrétier'; b) the Cordes and Paul families were cousins; c) there was political strife occurring between Catholics and Protestants called 'Luthériens' by anti-Protestant mobs  d) Antoine de Cordes secuestered those suspected of heresy in his château for their protection from the rioters but was not able to protect the houses of the brothers Lous and Jean de Paul. e) Louis and Jean de Paul were the sons of Ḗtienne Paul f) there is a possible etymological link between corrétier and schroeder depending on the translation of corrérier which is variously rendered as corratier, courtier or even charretier.  In the case of the Pauls it seems likely that the meaning would be that of courtier maritime or courtier en affrètement which could be related to the term of drayage in use in maritime ports, in which case the Northern German translation of Schroeder as drayman, related to the tranport of beer might connect the surname of Paul dit corrétier with the North German schroeder.