This surname of HECKATHORN is of two-fold origin. It was a German and Ashkenazic occupational name for a butcher, or less often for a woodcutter. It was also a locational name meaning 'the dweller at the gate of a fortified town or village' The name was originally derived from the Old German word HACKEN (to chop). The Jewish surname may be from the Yiddish 'heker' (butcher) or 'holtsheker' (woodcutter). The name has many variant spellings which include HACKER, HAKER, HEKER, HACKMANN and HECKERLIN. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin. A notable member of the name was Friedrich Karl Franz HECKER (1811-81) the German political agitator, born in Eichstersheim, Baden. He became an advocate, headed the republican movement of 1848, with a band of revolutionists who invaded Baden, but was defeated and fled to America. In the Civil War he commanded a brigade. The word Heraldry is derived from the German HEER, (a host, an army) and HELD, (champion): the term BLASON, by which the science is denoted in French, English, Italian and German, has most probably its origin in the German word 'BLAZEN' (to blow the horn). Whenever a new knight appeared at a Tournament, the herald sounded the trumpet, and as competitors attended with closed vizors, it was his duty to explain the bearing of the shield or coat-armour belonging to each. Thus, the knowledge of the various devices and symbols was called 'Heraldry'. The Germans transmitted the word to the French, and it reached England after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
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