ZINK is a German name of two-fold origin. It was an occupational name 'one who played the medieval cornet, the zinke'. The name was derived from the Old German 'zinke'. The same word was used to denote a cornet, although the semantic development is not clear, and the surname may sometimes have been metonymic for a player of this instrument. It was not until the 16th century that the metal 'zinc' was discovered, so this is unlikely to lie behind the surname. The name is also spelt ZINKE and ZINGG. Most of the occupations or professions reflected in family names are those known in the small villages in Europe, or those followed in a kings, or an important noble's household, or in some large religious house or monastery. During the Middle Ages much of Europe of composed of small villages, and many families surnames sprang from the occupation of the owner, and to describe a man by his occupation or profession was the most natural way to address a man, and set him apart from others in the neighbourhood. The name was also a locational name meaning the dweller by the pointed piece of land, from residence nearby. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. 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 word Heraldry is derived from the German HEER, (a host, an army) and HELD, (champion): the term BLASON, by which the science is denoted in French, English, Italian and German, has most probably its origin in the German word 'BLAZEN' (to blow the horn). Whenever a new knight appeared at a Tournament, the herald sounded the trumpet, and as competitors attended with closed vizors, it was his duty to explain the bearing of the shield or coat-armour belonging to each. Thus, the knowledge of the various devices and symbols was called 'Heraldry'. The Germans transmitted the word to the French, and it reached England after the Norman Conquest of 1066.
Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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