This Dutch surname of VAN WEY was a topographic name for someone who lived near a road or path. The name was derived from the Old German word WEG. Other spellings of the name include WIER, WEYER, WEYMAN, WEGMANN, WEGSTRA, VAN DE WEG, VAN DE WEGHE, VAN DER WEGEN, WEGMAN, WEGSMAN and WEGERMAN, to name but a few. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. A notable member of the name was Johann WIER (or WEYER) (1516-88) the Belgium physician, one of the first opponents of the witchcraft superstition, born in Grave, North Brabant. He studied medicine at Paris and Orleans, and became physician to the Duke of Julich in Dusseldorf to whom he dedicated his 'De Praestigiis Daemonum et Incantationibus ac Veneficiis' (1563) a plea against the folly and cruelty of the witchcraft trials. The book roused the fury of the clergy, but the Duke protected Wier until his death. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Dutchmen who have surnames from towns, cities or districts, are mostly distinguished by the prefix VAN. In the United States the use of capital and initial letters and spaces is optional with the particular family. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. Compared to other countries, Dutch heraldry is notably simpler, some of the shields bearing only a single charge. Generally speaking one helmet, one shield and one crest has been used, quartering is uncommon and mottoes are rare.
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