This surname of VANOSS is a Flemish and Dutch topographic name for someone who lived near a prominent ash tree. The name was also adopted by Ashkenazic Jews, an acronym from the Yiddish Alt SHulor AyzynSHtot or as a Jewish occupational name for an ironworker or smith, or an ironmonger. The name was originally derived from the German word EISEN (iron). The name may also have been used as a nickname with reference to the strength and hardness of iron or to its colour, while as a Jewish name it was also adopted as an ornamental name from the modern German 'iron' or from the Yiddish 'ayzn'. It was in the cities and large towns that the various workers in metal of one kind or another developed. Protected and nurtured by the craft guilds they formed in the Middle Ages, they rose in rank above the peasants in the country districts. They were considered to be highly skilled craftsmen. Men did not hesitate to engage in fierce combat during this time, and they desired as much armour and strong weapons as possible. Other spellings of the name include VAN ESCH, VAN DER ESSEN, VERESSE, VERESSCHEN, VAN NES, VAN DER REST and ASK, to name but a few. 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. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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