The surname of VANDAM was a Dutch topographic name for someone who lived by a dike, especially one built to keep out the sea. The name was originally derived from the Latin word 'dam'. 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. The name is also spelt DAM, DAMMS, DAMSTRA, DAMMER and DAMME. The name was brought into England at an early date and Petrus dil Dam was documented in County Norfolk in 1273. Robertus de Dam of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Johannes de Dam appeared in the same document. Robert atte Dam de Wrotham, was the vicar of Griston in County Norfolk in 1409. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. A notable member of the name was Dominique Joseph VANDAMME (1770-1830) the French Napoleonic soldier, born in Cassel in Nord. In 1799 he fought at Austerlitz, in 1806-07, reduced Silesia, but was defeated and taken prisoner at Kulm in 1813. He held a command during the Hundred Days, 1816, but, after the second Restoration was exiled. He returned from America in 1824. 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. Another notable member of the name was Carl Peter Henrik DAM (1895-1976) the Danish biochemist. He was professor at Copenhagen (1923-40) and in 1940 went to the United States where he taught at the University of Rochester. He shared the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine in 1943 with the American biochemist Edward Doisy.
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