This surname GERDES was a baptismal name 'the son of Gerard'. The name was derived from the Old German Gerhard - meaning spear-brave, and composed of the elements GERI (spear) and HARD (hardy, brave, strong). This personal name was introduced by the Normans into England during the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GARRATT, GERHARTZ, GEERDTS, GEHRTS, JERTZ and GERRETSEN, to name 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 this name was Paul GERHARDT (1607-76) the German hymnwriter, born in Grafenhainichen in Saxony. He became assistant pastor at St. Nicholas in Berlin in 1657, but for opposing the elector's attempted union of the Lutheran and Reformed churches was banished in 1666. He was one of the greatest German Lutheran hymnists, his hymns were unique in their sincerity and simplicity in the age of baroque. 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.
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