This was a German and French surname from a Germanic personal name composed of the elements HUN (bear-cub) and BERHT (bright and famous). The name was particularly popular in the Netherlands and north Germany during the Middle Ages, as a result of the fame of a 7th century St. HUMBERT, who founded the abbey of Marolles in Flanders. The name has many variant spellings which include HUMBRECHT, HUMPRECHT, HUMPERT, HOMMER, HUMBERDOT, HUMBELOT and HUMMERS. The name was also an occupational name for the overseer or head servant who occupies or farms a hide of land - a hide meaning a medieval measurement of land of varying extent; originally the amount required by one free family and its dependants or as much as could be tilled with one plough in a year. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. 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. A notable member of the name was Johann Nepomuk HUMMEL (1778-1837) the Austrian pianist and composer, born in Pressburg. He was taught by his father, the director of the School of Military Music at Pressburg, and when the family moved to Vienna, his playing impressed Mozart, who gave him lessons. He began playing in public in 1787. He wrote several ballets and operas, but was best known for his piano and chamber works.
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