The associated coat of arms for this name are recorded in J.B Rietstaps Armorial General. Illustrated by V & H.V Rolland's. This Monumental work took 23 years to complete and 85,000 coats of Arms are included in this work. This German and Dutch surname of ALTVATER was a name which was applied to an older person, not necessarily implying old age, but rather used to distinguish an older from a younger bearer of the same given name. The name has numerous variant spellings which include OULD, AULT, OLDMAN, ALTERMAN, ALDERER, OUDT, OUDEMAN, ALT and OULDS, to name but a few. In part this name is from the Yiddish male given name ALTER (old man) given to a child born after the death of a sibling or assumed by anyone who was in mortal danger (usually someone ill). The purpose was to confuse the Angel of Death into thinking that the person was old and so not worth claiming as a victim. 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. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity.
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