This Dutch surname of LYDA is of two-fold origin. It was a name which was applied to someone who came from LEIDEN a City of South Holland, the Netherlands; when besieged (1573-74) by the Spaniards it was relieved by William the Silent, who cut the dikes and rescued the citizens by ship. The name is also spelt LEYDY, LEYDEN and LEIDEN. 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, a 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. It was also an occupational name which was applied to one who tans leather, a tanner. During the Middle Ages and in fact long before, skins of animals were used for protection against the elements, and it was soon learnt to manufacture them into leather, a material that has been known since early Egyptian times. A craftsman in this field had an important occupation throughout all of Europe during the Middle Ages. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. A notable member of this name was John LEYDEN (l775-l8ll) Scottish poet and orientalist, born in Denholm, Roxburghshire, the son of a farmer. He studied medicine at Edinburgh University, and was licensed as a preacher in l798. He wrote a book on European settlements in Africa (l799) and helped Sir Walter Scott to gather materials for his Border Minstrelsy and his translations and poems in the Edinburgh Magazine attracted attention. His dissertation on Indo-Chinese languages is also well known.
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