English, Scottish, German, Dutch, etc.: from the personal name Peter (Greek Petros, from petra ‘rock’, ‘stone’). The name was popular throughout Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, having been bestowed by Christ as a byname on the apostle Simon bar Jonah, the brother of Andrew. The name was chosen by Christ for its symbolic significance (John 1:42, Matt. 16:18); St. Peter is regarded as the founding head of the Christian Church in view of Christ's saying, ‘Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church’. In Christian Germany in the early Middle Ages this was the most frequent personal name of non-Germanic origin until the 14th century. This surname has also absorbed many cognates in other languages, for example Czech Petr, Hungarian Péter. It has also been adopted as a surname by Ashkenazic Jews.