This Swedish surname of VAN ORDEN is a topographic name for someone who lived in the northern part of a village, or to the north of a main settlement. It may also have been applied to someone who had migrated from the north. The name has many variant spellings which include VAN DEN NOORT, VAN NOORDEN, NORDMAN, NORBERG (north hill), NORRBY (north settlement), NORDAHL (north valley), NORDLUND (north grove), NORDLOF (north leaf), NORDMARK (north land), NORDQUIST (north twig) and NORDSTROM (north river) to name but a few. In the 17th century, so-called 'soldiers' names are found as the earliest kind of hereditary surnames in Sweden. These names were derived from vocabulary words, usually martial-sounding monosyllables such as Rapp (prompt) Rask (bold), or occasionally names of animals and birds. The names were bestowed on soldiers for administrative purposes, and no doubt in some cases derived from pre-existing nicknames. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84. Most Swedes did not adopt hereditary surnames until the 19th century and the patronymic system was still in use in rural areas until late in the 19th century. In the absence of evidence to the contrary it is thought that people may have adopted their surname from the area in which they lived.
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