This German surname of LENKE was originally a Norman name among whom it was a popular name with the ruling classes, perhaps as a result of the association with the Old French LANCE, a name for an armourer or for a soldier who wielded the lance. The name is also spelt LANTZ, LENK and LANCE. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. A notable member of this name is Walter LANTZ (l900-) American cartoonist and film animator, born in New Rochelle, New York, the creator of the 'Woody Woodpecker' character. An office boy on the' New York American' (l9l4) he studied cartooning by correspondence course and got his start with William Randolph Hearst's animation studio in l9l6. He rose to be writer/director/'star' of his own 'Dinky Doodle' cartoons, then went to Hollywood where he took over 'Oswald the Lucky Rabbit' (l928) after Walt Disney left Universal Pictures, and remained with that studio for over 50 years. Of the many characters he created the most popular is 'Woody Woodpecker' who first burst on the screen in 'Knock Knock' (l940) and whose characteristic laugh is supplied by Mrs. Lantz (actress Grace Stafford). English heraldry predominated in North America, the first grant being in l586 to the City and Corporation of Ralegh in Virginia, relating to the first English Settlement on Roanoke Island, now situated in North Carolina. Heraldry was mostly dormant in North America until l694, when the first North American resident Francis Nicholson, received a grant of Arms. Soon after, the University (the College of William and Mary) received its own grant. Not until the present century has an agreement been reached whereby the English Kings of Arms were allowed to issue grants of honorary armorial bearings to American citizens able to prove male-line descent from a British subject.
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