This Hungarian and Ashkenazic Jewish surname of SCHWEMMER was a nickname for a good swimmer. The name was derived from the Old German word SCHIMMEN. Other spellings of the name includes SCHWIMER, SCHWEMER, SCHEMMER, SCHWIM and SCHIMME. Nicknames usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. The Hungarian language is quite distinct from its Germanic and Slavonic neighbours, and is of Finno-Ugric rather than European origin, and so it is related to Finnish. However, the strongest cultural influence in historical times has been German, and the pattern of Hungarian surnames is similar to that found in Germany and Austria. In the 19th century, surnames ending in 'Y' came to be considered more aristocratic than those ending in 'I', although it has been shown that the alternation between these two letters depended on the whim of a clerk, and had no connection with rank. A notable member of the name was Rosika SCHWIMMER (1877-1948) the Hungarian feminist and pacifist, born in Budapest. As a journalist, she was active in the Hungarian women's movement, and was a co-founder of a feminist-pacifist group. In 1920, fleeing from the country's anti-semitic leadership, she emigrated to the United States, but was refused citizenship since, as a pacifist, she could not promise to fight should war break out. Hungarian heraldry shows a marked preference for charges or devices associated with the Turkish wars which were a feature of Hungarian history from the 15th to the 18th centuries. A great number of all Hungarian armorial bearings feature a decapitated Turk's head, moustached and turbanned. Sabres, swords and lances are brandished and lions, gryphons or horsemen are all depicted in a fiery and war-like manner. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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