The surname of GEHL is of German, Dutch and Jewish origin. It was a habitation name from the Northern German town of GELDERN, or from the Dutch province of GELDERLAND, earlier GELER and GELRE. Both places get their names from what may be an ancient description of marshland. It was also a German occupational name for a town crier, derived from the Old German word GELLER meaning to shout and yell. As a Jewish name it was applied as a nickname for a man with red-hair, from the Yiddish GEL (red-headed), or for a man with light hair and a sallow complexion. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GELLERMAN, GELDERMAN, GELLERT, GELER, VAN GELDER, GELDERLAND, GELBSTEIN and GELBWACHS to include but a few. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin. A notable member of the name was Christian Furchegott GELLERT (1715-69) the German poet and moralist, born in Hainichen, Saxony. He was educated at Leipzig and in 1751 became a professor there. He was a prolific writer of stories and fables, and two of his comedies 'Das Loos in der Lotterei' and 'Die kranke Frau' were popular favourites. 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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