This German, Dutch and Norwegian surname of WINT is of varying origins. It was a name given to one born during this time of the year. Medieval houses often had their walls painted from biblical, historical, romantic or allegorical subjects, such as the representation of winter, if one of the family were born at this time. It was also a nickname which was applied to someone with a gloomy or frosty temperament. The name was adopted by Ashkenazic Jewish people from the German name WINTER, either as an ornamental name or one of the group of surnames which were distributed at random by government officials. Other spellings of the name include WYNTER, VINTER, WINTERLE, WINTERLEIN, WINTERBERG, WINTERSTEIN and WYNTERS. Dutchmen who have surnames from towns, cities or districts, are mostly distinguished by the prefix VAN. In the United States the use of capital and initial letters and spaces is optional with the particular family. 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. Compared to other countries, Dutch heraldry is notably simpler, some of the shields bearing only a single charge. Generally speaking one helmet, one shield and one crest has been used, quartering is uncommon and mottoes are rare. Peter de WINT (1784-1849) was the water-colourist, born in Stone, Staffordshire, of Dutch descent. His fame rests on his water colour illustrations of English landscape, English architecture and English country life. Among them are 'The Cricketers', 'The Hay Harvest', 'Nottingham', 'Richmond Hill' and 'Cows in Water'. Many of his works are in Lincoln Art Gallery. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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