This surname of ORTIZ is of two-fold origin. It was a Provencal occupational name for a gardener or a topographic name for someone who lived near an enclosed garden. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form HORTUS. It was also a German name for someone who lived at the top of a hill or the end of a settlement, derived from the Old German word ORT, in the transferred sense 'tip, extremity'. The name has numerous variant spellings which include DELORT, DESHORTS, HUERTA, HORTA, OHRTMAN, VAN OORT, ORTET and ORTEL, to name but a few. 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. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization. A notable member of the name was Victor, Baron HORTA (1861-1947) the Belgian architect, born in Ghent, regarded as the originator of Art Nouveau. Heavily influenced by the 1878 Paris World's Fair, he wanted to create a true modern western architecture. He designed the first department store 'L'Innovation' (1901) in Brussels. His popularity declined after 1900, but he is now recognized as a master. Another notable member of the name was Vicente Garcia de la HUERTA (1730-87) the Spanish poet and critic born in Zafra. He was head of the Royal Library in Madrid. His famous tragedy of 'Raquel' (1778) was based upon the story of Alfonso VIII's love for the beautiful Jewess, Rachel. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity.
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