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Yoho Coat of Arms / Yoho Family Crest

This surname of YOHO was from a medieval given name which is ultimately from the Hebrew male name YONA, meaning 'Dove'. In the book of the Bible which bears his name, Jonah was appointed by God to preach repentance to the city of Nineveh, but tried to flee instead to Tarshish. On the voyage to Tarshish, a great storm blew up, and Johah was thrown overboard by his shipmates to appease God's wrath, swallowed by a 'great fish' and delivered by it on the shores of Ninevah. This story produced a powerful hold on the popular imagination in medieval Europe, and the given name was a common choice. The name has many variant spellings which include JONAH, YONAH, JONA, JONAK, JONASEN and YONOVITZ. 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. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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