This surname of DE BECKER was an English, German and Dutch metonymic occupational name for a preparer and seller of cured pork, originally derived from the Germanic personal name BACCO. The name was relatively common among the Normans in the form BACCUS. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. The name has many variant spellings which include de Baecker, Bakker, de Backer and Baeck. In England the name has been Angliziced to Bacon and Bagge. 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 Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Leo Baeck (1873-1956) was the German-Jewish religious leader, born in Lissa, Prussia. He was rabbi (1912-42) in Berlin, and when the Nazis came to power became the political leader of German Jewry, and spent 1942-45 in the Theresienstadt concentration camp. After the war he lectured in Britain. His chief publications were 'The Essence of Judaism' (1936) and 'The Pharisees and Other Essays' (1947).
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.
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