Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. There is a large group of surnames, more frequent in French, German and Italian names, which are actually a compound of nickname and patronymic. They consist of an adjective indicating size or an attractive quality as a prefix attached to a given name. HOLTZAPPLE is such a name literally meaning a topographic name for someone who lived by a crab-apple tree, or a nickname for someone with a sour temperament. The name was originally derived from the German word HOLZAPFEL, literally meaning wood-apple. The name is also spelt HOLTAPPEL, HOLZAPFEL, HOLZAPZEL and HOLSAPPLE. It may also have been a nickname for someone having bright red cheeks, like an apple. The importance in medieval northern Europe of apples, as a fruit which could be grown in a cold climate and would keep for use throughout the winter is hard to appreciate in these days of easy imports. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Nicholas APPELMAN, who was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377).
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