The name ABELMAN was originally derived from the Hebrew personal name HEVEL which is of uncertain origin; the traditional derivation is from 'hevel' meaning 'breath, vigour'. The name was borne by the son of Adam who was murdered by his brother Cain, and was popular as a given name in Christendom during the Middle Ages, when there was a cult of suffering innocence which Abel represented. The name has numerous variant spellings which include ABELMAN, ABEL, ABBELL, ABELL, ABEAU, ABLETT, ABELS and ABBS. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. A notable member of the name was Sir Frederick Augustus ABEL born in 1827. He was born in London. As a chemist with the war department and ordnance committees of 1854-88, he applied himself to the science of explosives. As well as cordite, he introduced a new method of making gun-cotton, and invented the Abel tester for determining the flash-point of petroleum. He became the secretary of the Imperial Institute in 1887, and died in 1902. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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