This surname of VERMEULEN was a Flemish and Dutch topographic name for someone who lived by a pool or pond. The name was originally derived from the Old Dutch word MERE. The name is also spelt Van de MEER, VERMEER, VERMEEREN, TERMEE, and MEERMAN. For long periods of history, the northern part of Belgium was administratively united with the Netherlands. The Flemish language, spoken in northern Belgium, is very closely related to Dutch, and its surnames are often identical or nearly identical to Dutch. 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. A notable member of the name was Jan of Haarlem VERMEER (1628-91) a Dutch landscape painter. His son Jan the Younger (1656-1705) was also a painter. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed. 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. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
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