This German and Swiss name was of the locational group of surnames meaning 'the dweller at the sign of the red deer'. It may also have been used as a nickname for one with the characteristics of a deer. The name is also spelt HERSH, HERSCH and HERRSCHER. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin. A notable member of this name is Alfred Day HERSHEY (l908-) American biologist, born in Owosso, Michigan. He studied at Michigan State College and from l950 to l974 worked in the Carnegie Institution, Washington. He became an expert on bacteriophage ('phage') and in the early l950s, working with Martha Chase, proved that the DNA of this organism is its genetic information-carrying component. This possibility had been tentatively suggested by Oswald Avery in l944, but Hershey and Chase provided firm evidence for the idea, and they and others showed that the of other organisms fulfils the same key genetic role. Hershey shared the l969 Nobel prize for physiology or medicine with Salvador Luria and Max Delbruck. Another notable member of this name is John Richard HERSEY (l9l4- American author, born in Tientsin, China. He was educated at Yale, and was correspondent in the far east for the magazine 'Time'. His novels include 'A Bell for Adano' (l944) which was dramatized and filmed, 'Hiroshima' (l946) the first on-the-spot description of the effects of a nuclear explosion, 'The War Lover' (l959) 'The Child Buyer' (l960) 'Under the Eye of the Storm' (l967) and 'The Walnut Door' (l977).
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