The surname of GINGER was derived from the Old English word 'gingivere'. It was an occupational name, a spicer, one who sold herbs. In medieval times, one who dealt with herbs and spices was considered to be something of a medical man, an apothecary, a druggist, and was well admired. The name has many variant spellings which include GINGIVERE, GENGIBRE, GYNGIVRE and GINGRICH. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Early records of the name mention Roger Gingiure, 1221 County Gloucestershire. Godfrey Gyngivre was recorded in the year 1313 in County Yorkshre. Agnes Gyngeurer, of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll tax of 1379. 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.
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