The surname of OPPER was a Low-German and Dutch occupational name for a churchwarden or sexton, with particular reference to his task of taking the collection. The name was derived from the Old German word OPPERGILT donation, from OPPERN, to sacrifice and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form OPERARI + MANN. The name is also spelt OPFERMANN, OFFERMAN, OFERMAN and OFFERMANNS. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin. A notable member of the name was Sir Hubert Ferdinand OPPERMAN, born in 1904, the Australian cyclist and politician. After leaving school he started work as a telegraph boy and it was this which developed his phenomenal cycling speed. Between 1924 and 1937 he held at various times every long-distance track and road record in Australia and also competed with success in France, where in 1931 he was voted sportsman of the year. OPPERMAN served with the Australian Air Force in World War II, and was involved in federal politics from 1949 until 1967, during which time he held two ministerial posts and was government whip. In 1967 he became Australian high commissioner to Malta until 1972.
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