The name Hilliker traces to the much-contested agricultural and industrial province of Silesia. Most of Silesia in now part of Poland, two small regions are now part of the Czech Republic and of Germany.
The name of this territory probably has its origins in in the Silinger, a tribe associated with the Vandals, who lived here between the 2nd and the 6th centuries before moving south during the major period of tribal migration. The Slavic tribe of the Slezanen later occupied the area and joined with the Polians and others to to form the first Polish kingdom, of which Silesia became a part at the end of the llth century. In 1163, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa intervened in a struggle for succession and installed two Piast princes as dukes of Upper and Lower Silesia respectively.
Silesia was then independent, and following the policy of the Royal and Masovian branches, encouraged German settlement of their extensive lands. The Piasts were allies of the Empire and German knights fought under the Duke of Liegnitz (Lowed Silesia) against the Tatars in 1241. In 1335 Silesia was attached to the kingdom of Bohemia, which was then a part of the German Holy Roman Empire.
In the mediaeval period bearers of the surname Hilliker were found in Silesia, where the name emerged in mediaeval times as one of the notable families of the region. From the 13th century on the surname was identified with the great social and economic evolution which made this territory a landmark contributor to the development of the nation. Hilliker is in fact the Solution and Saxonian variation of the word "Hildeger", which was an old German word meaning "spear". Adam Hildiger lived in Liegnitz (Silesia) in 1453, and Hans Hilliger lived in Dresden in 1412.Spelling & Pronunciation
The spelling and pronunciation of a name constantly changes through the centuries, as the name evolved as part of standard usage in many different regions. During the Middle Ages, very few people could read and write; it was therefore up to the scribes to write down the name for various documents, based only on how the name sounded. Since dialects were different between even the smallest regions, variations were frequent. The variations of the name Hilliker include Hilger, Hilgert, Hilgers, Hilliger, Hildeger, Hilker, Hilliker, to give a few examples.
By the end of the 14th century, Silesia consisted of fourteen separate principalities, and the planned emigration was producing the desired prosperity; swamplands were reclaimed, the weaving industry developed, and Breslau, re-established in 1250 as German city, became a trading center between East and West. The dukes of Silesia eventually exchanged their allegiance to Poland for that of their neighbor Bohemia, and as the Piast dynasty gradually died out, their lands became crown properties of Bohemia.
Up to 1500, Silesia was a dependency of Bohemia, and as such eventually came under the control of the house of Hapsburg in 1526, who were rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. Silesia, mainly Protestant, fought as an ally of Bohemia in the brutal Thirty Years War. The land was overrun with invading armies and mercenaries, and almost three quarters of the population lost their lives.
During this period of change and development, bearers of the surname Hilliker settled in Silesia, where they became more entrenched as one of the notable family names of the region. They established several branch houses of the name and some were not confined to the region. They moved within the great flux of migration in 16th and 17th century Europe. Many migrated to capitalize on their interests in either religion, military, or political service. They were also elevated to the ranks of the nobility during this period and were represented by Nobles of the Holy Roman Empire. There was also a Belgian branch which achieved prominence in the region of Flanders under the name of Hilliger. Notable members of the name Hilliker during this period include members of the prominent Silesian branch, who aquired extensive land holdings.
In the 18th century, Frederick the Great of Prussia, fought three wars against Empress Maria Theresa (the only woman to hold a German throne) in order to wrest Silesia from Austrian dominance. As a territory rich in coal and fertile soil, Silesia was often the goal of invading armies. After the Prussian defeat of the Russians and the Austrians, Silesia entered a stage of major development as more settlers were encouraged to rebuild the devastated countryside.
Silesia developed into an industrial base, supplying raw materials for the expanding Prussian Empire. Following the defeat of the Axis powers in 1945, Silesia was returned to Polish control. Approximately three million Germans were deported and forced to migrate to the West without compensation, a political issue that has yet to be settled to the satisfaction of the respective Polish and German governments.
After 1650, many Germans emigrated from their homeland in order to seek a better life in the New World. In the United States, they settled in groups in the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, California, Illinois, and Texas, while in Canada German settlements were in Ontario and the Prairie provinces. Among the immigrants bearing the name Hilliker, we found Johann Jacob Hilgert, who came to Philadelphia in 1747, as did Peter Hilliger in 1754. Joseph Hilker arrived in Philadelphia in 1805. John Hilliker was listed as a sergeant of the Loyal Rangers in the service of the United Empire Loyalists, who came to Canada in 1783. In 1906, Lena M. Hilliker came to Ellis Island in New York City as did John H. Hilliker in 1916.Noteable Members
Notable members of the family name Hilliker that have distinguished themselves are those such as Benjamin F. Hilliker (b. 1843) Medal of Honor receipt during the Civil War. Grant Hilliker (b. 1921), was an influential American foreign service official. Wolfgang Hilger (b. 1939), is chairman of the board the German chemical concern HoechstCoat of Arms/Family Crest
A Coat of Arms is only presented to an individual, not a family. Heirs will use variants of the original to show their roots and distinction. A crest is not something which can be willed or transferred. The popular press and Hollywood have created the current belief that the crest is "a family heirloom". There has been no Family Crest found to date in the Hilliker name.