This German surname of REIFSNYDER was an occupational name for someone who made barrel hoops for the containment of ale or wine. During the Middle Ages the manufacture and fermenting of wines and ale was necessary in every small village. Ale was the people's food in liquid form, and was consumed by everybody at all times. The extreme poverty of the Franciscans when they first settled in London was noted by a writer at the time 'I have seen the brothers drink ale so sour that some would have preferred to drink water'. In early times each villager usually brewed his own drink although he often had to pay the lord of the manor for the privilege of using his equipment. In later times the manufacture of ales and wine became an important monastic industry. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking). The vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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