This surname of ATNIP was a German nickname for an agricultural worker, who was new to an area. The name is also spelt NIEP, NIP and NIPPER. The name was also used by Ashkenazic Jews, apparently an adoption of the German surname (Jews were not usually agricultural workers at the time surnames were acquired). Alternatively, the name may have been taken by someone who had just built a new house, or it may have been intended to express hope for the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (from the modern German meaning new building, reconstruction). During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. 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. 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. 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. Many immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. 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. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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