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Vestal Coat of Arms / Vestal Family Crest

Vestal Coat of Arms / Vestal Family Crest

This surname VESTAL was an English and German given name, originally derived from the Latin SILVESTER, a derivation of SILVA (meaning wood). The name was borne by three popes, including a contemporary of Constantine the Great. The name has travelled throughout Europe in many forms, which include FESTUS, SELVESTER, SYLVESTER, VESTRI, FESTERSON, VESTRIS and SELIVERSTOV, to name but a few. Porcius FESTUS (died 62AD) was the Roman procurator of Judaea, who succeeded Felix in 60AD. In 62 the apostle Paul defended himself before him (Acts XXV). 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. SYLVESTER II (circa.940-1003) was pope from the year 999. He was born in Gerbert in Aurillac in Auvergne. From his erudition in chemistry, mathematics and philosophy he acquired the reputation of being in league with the Devil. He made a large collection of classical manuscripts and is said to have introduced Arabic numerals and to have invented clocks. He became abbot of Bobbio in 982, and Archbishop of Rheims in 991 and Ravenna in 998. He upheld the primacy of Rome against the separatist tendencies of the French church. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking). The vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized.

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Last Updated: May 9, 2020

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