Chmielewski Family Crest / Chmielewski Coat of Arms
This Polish surname of CHMIELEWSKI was a Polish habitation name from any of various places deriving their names from the Polish word CHMEIL (hops), literally meaning the dweller by the hop-fields, and sometimes the name is spelt CHMIEL. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. The suffix SKI is also found as an ending of Russian surnames, but these are usually of Polish origin. It was also used by Ashkenazic Jews. By the time most Jewish people on Polish territory were acquiring family names in the late 18th and 19th centuries, it was already widely used as a general surname suffix. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavic given names, began to give way to saint's names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families. Some names were changed by immigrants whilst on the boat heading for America. These transformations were usually to names thought by the immigrants to be more respected in his native land than the one he bore. Many Poles added 'ski' to their names to attain a higher social status since such names were accorded more respect from people of Polish extraction. Thus a larger proportion of Polish names carried this termination in America than in Poland.
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