This surname VIS is of Germanic origin and is found throughout Germany, the Netherlands and France. The name has many variant spellings and derivatives, which include VISCH, FISCH, VISSER and WISSER to name but a few. It was an occupational name for a catcher or seller of fish, or a nickname for someone bearing some supposed resemblance to a fish. It was occasionally selected because of its associations with the Hebrew given name of YONA or JONAH, because Jonah in the book of the Bible that bears his name, was swallowed up by 'a Great Fish' and blessed by his father Jacob, with the words 'Let them grow into a multitude'. For long periods of history, the northern part of Belgium was administratively united with the Netherlands. The Flemish language, spoken in northern Belgium, is very closely related to Dutch, and its surnames are often identical or nearly identical to Dutch, and have been influenced by both German and French surnames, which began in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. A notable member of the name was the Dutch ecumenist, Willem Adolf VISSER (1900-1985) born in Haarlem. He graduated in theology at Leiden and served young people's organizations until his appointment in 1938 as general secretary of what was to become the World Council of Churches. In that role he proved himself the foremost ecumenical statesman of his generation. He was a versatile scholar who spoke several languages fluently and published many books including 'None Other Gods' (1937) 'The Struggle of the Dutch Church' (1946) and his 'Memoirs' (1973). In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. 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.
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
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