This English and French surname was a baptismal name meaning 'the son of Calvin'. It was also a nickname for a bald person. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. A noteworthy person of the name was John CALVIN (1509-64) the French theologian and reformer, born in Noyon in Picardy, where his father Gerard CAULVIN was procureur-fiscal and secretary of the diocese. He studied Latin in Paris from 1523, and later as a law student in Orleans. He rendered a double service to Protestantism; he systematized its doctrine and organized its ecclesiastical discipline. His commentaries embrace the greater part of the Old Testament and the whole of the New except the Revelation. In 1559 he founded a theological academy at Geneva that became the university. Melvin CALVIN, born in 1911 was the American chemist, born in Minnesota of Russian immigrant parents. He became professor of chemistry at the University of California (1947-71) and head of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory there (1963-80). He won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1961. 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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