The surname of NATHAN was a baptismal name 'the son of Nathonson' a name meaning 'gift'. There was a prophet so called in the time of David and Solomon circa 970 BC.The name is of obscure origin and there are few early instances recorded. It is a very ancient and now an almost rare surname. Early records of the name mention Edward Nathans was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The acquisition of surnames in Europe during the past eight hundred years has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure, naming practices in neighbouring cultures, and indigenous cultural tradition. On the whole, the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working classes and the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in more sparsely populated rural areas. These facts suggest that the origin of surnames is associated with the emergence of bureaucracies. As long as land tenure, military service, and fealty were matters of direct relationship between a lord and his vassals, the need did not arise for fixed distinguishing epithets to mark out one carl from another. But as societies became more complex, and as such matters as the management of tenure and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to have a more complex system of nomenclature to distinguish one individual from another reliably and unambiguously. A notable member of the name was Isaac NATHAN (1790-1864) the English born Australian composer and music teacher, born in Canterbury, Kent. He was a musical librarian to King George IV. He was a friend of the poet Byron whose Hebrew Melodies (1815) he set to music. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. 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. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people.
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