This German surname of HEITMANN was a locational name meaning 'the dweller at or near the heath'. The name is also spelt HEITMAN, HEISTMAN and HEITE. It was also a status name for a headman, leader or captain derived from the German word HAUPTMANN. This word denoted any of various civil and military officials at different times and places. The first element represents the original Germanic word for HEAD. Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. A notable member of the name was Gerhart HAUPTMANN (1862-1946) the German dramatist and novelist, born in Obersalzbrunn, Silesia. He studied sculpture in Breslau and Rome, before settling down in Berlin in 1885. His first play 'Vor Sonnenaufgang' (Before Sunrise, 1889) introduced a new social drama. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1912. 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. Another notable is Herbert Aaron HAUPTMAN, born in 1917, the American physicist. He shared the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1985.
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