This Swedish surname of MALM is an arbitrary or ornamental name from the Swedish word ORE. The name was originally derived from the Old Norman word MALMR, and was adopted in some cases by people having something to do with the copper-mining industry or metals. It was in the cities and large towns that the various workers in metal of one kind or another developed. Protected and matured by the craft guilds they formed in the Middle Ages, they rose in rank above the peasants in the country districts. They were considered to be highly skilled craftsmen. Men did not hesitate to engage in fierce combat during this time, and they desired as much armour and strong weapons as possible. The name is also spelt MALHERB, MALMBORG (ore town), MALMGREN (ore branch) MALSTEM (ore stone) MALHERBE (ore herb) and MALSTROM (ore river). Francois de MALHERBE (1555-1628) was the French poet born in Caen. He ingratiated himself with Henry IV and received a pension. He was an industrious writer producing odes, songs, epigrams, epistles, translations and criticisms. In the 17th century, so-called 'soldiers' names are found as the earliest kind of hereditary surnames in Sweden. These names were derived from vocabulary words, usually martial-sounding monosyllables such as Rapp (prompt) Rask (bold), or occasionally names of animals and birds. The names were bestowed on soldiers for administrative purposes, and no doubt in some cases derived from pre-existing nicknames. Most Swedes did not adopt hereditary surnames until late in the 19th century. In the absence of evidence to the contrary it is thought that people may have adopted their surname from the area in which they lived. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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