The English, French, Dutch and German surname of GIROLAMI was ostensibly from the medieval given name of JEROME which achieved some popularity in France and elsewhere, being given in honour of St. Jerome (347-420) one of the four great Latin Fathers, who prepared the Vulgate version of the Bible. However this was a rare given name in the Middle Ages. The name has numerous variant spellings which include JEROME, JERROM, JERRAM, GEROME, GIRAUME, HIERONIMUS, JERONIMO and GEEROOM, to name but a few. The comparative frequency of the surname is explained by the fact that it has also absorbed a Norman personal name GERRAM, which is composed of the elements GERI (spear) + HRABAN (raven). 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. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization. A notable member of the name was GERONIMO (1829-1909) the US Apache Indian chief. He led several raids resisting resettlement of his people on a barren reservation in Arizona, but surrendered in 1886. Eventually they became farmers in Oklahoma. He dictated his autobiography 'Geronimo; His Own Story' shortly before he died. 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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