The surname of HELDMAN was a German and Jewish nickname given to a sound or healthy man. It was also a baptismal name meaning 'the son of Hellmann' a German Jewish synonym of Samuel. This ancient Hebrew font name meaning 'Name of God' is still widely in use today. Samuel (11th century BC) was the Old Testament ruler, and first of the Hebrew prophets. Next to Moses he was the greatest personality in the early history of Israel. As a child he was dedicated to the priesthood. The name is also spelt HELDENBERG, HEIL, HEILMAN, HELLMAN and HEILLMANN. 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. 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. A notable member of the name was Lillian Florence HELLMAN (1907-84) the American playwright, born into a Jewish family in New Orleans. She was educated at New York University, and later worked for the New York 'Herald Tribune' as a reviewer (1925-28), and for MGM in Hollywood as a reader of plays. 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.
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