Recorded in a wide variety of spellings including Hof, Hofer, Hoeffer, Hoffner, Hoffer, Imhof (German), Hofstra and Havinga (Frisian), Van Hove, Van den Hove (Flemish), Van der Haven, Van der Hove, Van der Hoeven, Van der Hoven, Vanthoff, and Verhoeven (Dutch), this is a topographical or residential surname. It describes a person who lived at a farmstead or village, from the pre 7th century Olde High German word "hof", which in its purest sense means a settlement. Residential surnames of this type were usually "from" names. That is to say names given as a form of identification to people who had left their original homes and moved somewhere else. On the face of it nothing could be easier than to call them by the name of their former home. However spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, and local dialects very thick, often lead to the development of alternative spellings. In this case the surname has been recorded since medieval times with examples such as Heinrich Hof of the city of Konstanz in the year 1294, and Lugwig von Hofer of Bayern in the year 1446. Later examples taken from early surviving church registers include those of Anna Maria Van der Hoeven, at Gravenage, in the Netherlands on April 3rd 1659, and Baalje Van der Hoven, at Ouddorp in the same Dutch province, on November 29th 1855.
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