The surname of ROSSMANN was a German/Jewish occupational name for a breeder or keeper of horses meaning 'one who rode a horse'. The name was originally from the south German word HROS (famous). It was perhaps also a nickname for someone who lived at a house distinguished by the sign of a horse, and it could also have applied to one who came from Rosna, Rossen or Roessen, towns in Germany. 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 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. 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. The name was introduced into England by the Normans in 1066 in the form ROCE, and it has been Anglicized to Roose and Ross. The name was taken to Scotland from Yorkshire in the 12th century, in the form Ross, when large territories in Ayrshire were held by a family de Ros, who were apparently so called from the place in Yorkshire. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Rietstaps Armorial General. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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