This surname LEVITAN was derived from the Hebrew male given name of LEVI (joining) and was borne by a son of Jacob and Leah (Genesis 29:34) Bearers of this given name or surname are Levites, members of the tribe of Levi, who form a hereditary caste who assist the KOHANIM (the priest). They are traditionally regarded as descended from Aaron, brother of Moses. The name in its numerous forms of spellings is wideworld, and early records of the name in England mention Leuun (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Lowinus Rex was documented in County Yorkshire in the year 1185. Iwanus filius Lefwine, 1212, County Lancashire. Henry Lewyn was the burgess of Newcastle on Tyne in 1292. Edward Lewins was documented in County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Andreue Leune of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Barbary, daughter of Lewin Weldon was baptised at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1626.
Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. When traditional Jews were forced to take family names by the local bureaucracy, it was an obligation imposed from outside traditional society, and people often took the names playfully and let their imaginations run wild by choosing names which either corresponded to nothing real in their world. No one alive today can remember the times when Jews took or were given family names (for most Ashkenazim this was the end of the 18th century or the beginning of the 19th) although many remember names being changed after emigration to other countries, such as the United States and Israel in recent years.
At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour.
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