This surname of VERHULST is a Low German, Dutch and Danish topographic name for someone who occupied a patch of woodland. The name was derived from the Middle German word HOLSATE, composed of the elements HOLT (wood) and SATE (tenant), literally meaning 'one who lived in the wooded area or a forest. The province of HOLSTEIN, derives its name from this source. The name is also spelt HOLST, HOLSTEN and HOLSTON. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. 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. The practice of adopting surnames spread to Denmark and Norway from Germany, during the late Middle Ages, but until the 19th century, they were neither fixed nor universal. The Danish state has in recent years been encouraging the adoption of a wider range of surnames. A most notable member of this name was Gustav Theodore HOLST (1874-1934) the English composer, born of Swedish origin in Cheltenham, England. He conducted village choirs before entering the Royal College of Music, London, on a scholarship in 1893. In 1905 he became music director at Morley College, London, and in 1919 was appointed to a similar post at Reading College. Probably his most famous piece is 'The Planets' (1914-1917). He was buried in Chichester Cathedral. 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. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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