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Smeltz Coat of Arms / Smeltz Family Crest

The surname of SMELTZ was a German occupational name for a chandler, originally derived from the Old German word SCHMALZ (tallow, grease). It may also have been used as a nickname for an unctious person. The name has many variant spellings which include SCHMALTZ, SCHMOLTZ, SCHMALZER, SCHAMLZL and SCHMELZTER. 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. A noteworthy person of the name was Johann Heinrich SCHMELZER (1623-80) the Austrian composer, son of a soldier. He was trained as a musician in the emperor's service and won fame throughout Europe as a violinist. In 1679 he became kapellmeister to Leopold I, but the following year died of the plague in Prague, where the court had fled from the great epidemic in Vienna. The first to adapt the tunes of the Viennese street musicians and Tyrolean peasants to the more sophisticated instrumental styles of the court, he is often regarded as the true father of the Viennese Waltz. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin.

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Last Updated: January 15th, 2021

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