The surname of HOFFMAN is of German origin, a locational and occupational name 'one who lived and worked on a large farm'. The name later came to mean a chamberlain in a noble household or an official with similar functions in a religious house, from the Old German elements of HOF (court) and MEISTER (master). The name is also borne by Ashkenazic Jews, the reason for its adoption as a Jewish surname being unclear. The name is also spelt HOFF, HOFFMANN, HOFFE and HOFFER. 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. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land and indicated where he actually lived. Many of the European local names denote the seat of noble families. 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. A notable member of the name was Friedrich HOFFMAN (1660-1742) the German physician. He was professor of medicine at Halle, and physician to Frederick I of Prussia. Karl HOFER (1878-1955) was the German artist, born in Karlsruhe, where he studied. He spent many years in France and Italy, and his work was much influenced by his war experiences.
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