This German surname of FORTNER was a locational name. Where there are streams or running water, in medieval times, people crossed them either by a bridge, a ferry, or by a ford, the latter being the usual way during the period surnames were being stabilized. The man who lived by the ford would be known as FORTNEY, and as almost every river or stream could be crossed at a shallow place, the name became quite common. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking). The vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity. German or Teutonic heraldry extended its sphere of influence over central Europe and spread into Scandinavia. It is most notable for its design and treatment of crests, most of which reflect the arms in the charge or tinctures (colours) or both, which is unknown in British heraldry. Teutonic Europe assembled many arms on a single shield, each bearing its corresponding crest on a helmet.
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