This Dutch, Swiss and Ashkenazic Jewish surname of VAN ZANT is a nickname for someone with a large or peculiar tooth or a remarkable or defective set of teeth. The name was derived from the German word ZAHN (tooth) and is also spelt ZANDT, ZANHNLE, ZAHN and ZEHNLE. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. A young man by the name of David Graeff, born on February 18th, 1821, a descendant of a family of Swiss emigrants, who formed a portion of a colony of thirteen families that settled in Pequea Valley in 1702, was put in the care of a guardian Daniel ZAHN after the early death of his parents. A Michael ZAHN owned an establishment of watch-making and jewellery at 30 North Queen Street, Pennsylvania, circa. 1832. During the Reformation, Switzerland was not affected by the religious strife that devastated most of Europe; cities such as Geneva were in the middle of the Reformation and John Calvin became prominent as a Protestant reformer, founding Protestantism. Many people of Swiss origin emigrated from there to seek their fortune in other parts of the world. In the United States they particularly populated the states of Pennsylvania, New York, Illinois, Ohio, Texas and California. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Compared to other countries, Dutch heraldry is notably simpler, some of the shields bearing only a single charge. Generally speaking one helmet, one shield and one crest has been used, quartering is uncommon and mottoes are rare.
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