The surname of KEIPER was a German and Jewish occupational name for a worker in copper, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form CYPRIUM. The name has many variant spellings which include KUIPER, KUPFERMANN, KUPPER, KOPPERMANN, COOPERMAN, KIPERMAN, KUPERBAUM, KUPERBOIM and KUPFERMINC. The name has spread throughout Europe and has been Anglicized to COPPER. 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 GERARD PETER KUIPER (1905-73), the Dutch-born American astronomer, born in Harenkarspel. Educated in Leiden, he moved to the USA in 1933. He discovered two new satellites: Miranda, the fifth satellite of Uranus, and Nereid, the second satellite of Nepture. His study of the planetary atmospheres detected carbon dioxide on Mars and methane on Titan, the largest Saturnian satellite. He was involved with the early American space flights, including the Ranger and the Mariner missions. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages.
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