This surname VOGHT was a German occupational name for one who was a bailiff or a farm manager or foreman. The name was derived from the Middle German word VOGET (taken from the Latin Avogado, meaning to call up, to help) and the term originally described someone who appeared before a court on behalf of some other party who was not permitted to make a direct representation. This would more than likely have been some ecclesiastical body which was not supposed to have any dealings with the temporal authorities. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. The name has many variant spellings which include VOET, VOIT, VOIGHT, VOIGH, VAUTH, VOOGD, VAGD and VOOGT. 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. A notable member of the name was Paulus VOET (1619-77) the Dutch jurist. He was Professor at Utrecht, and a great scholar. His two books, relevant in conflict of laws written in 1661 and 1666 are both still referred to in South Africa. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Rietstaps Armorial General. Registered in Westphalia.
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