This surname of COMSTOCK was an English locational name for 'one who came from COMSTOCK', the monastery in a narrow valley' in England. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. 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. A notable member of the name was Antony B. COMSTICK, (1844-1915) an American moral reformer, who became the Secretary for the Society for the Suppression of Vice. His puritanical zeal led him to condemn the plays of Bernard Shaw, who retaliated by coining the word 'COMSTOCKERY', meaning narrow-minded bigotry. Another famous member was Henry Tompkins Paige Comstock, who gave his name to the COMSTOCK Lode, which produced vast amounts of gold and silver, near Virginia City, Navada. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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