This English and German surname of WILLMAN was originally from the Norman form of an Old French personal name, composed of the Germanic element WIL (will, desire). The name was introduced into England at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066, and within a very short period it became the most popular given name in England, in the form WILLIAM, no doubt in honour of the Conqueror himself. The name has also enjoyed considerable popularity in Germany as WILHELM, France as GUILLAUME, Spain as GUILLERMO and Italy as GUGLIELMO, with numerous other variants which include WELLIAM, GILLHAM, WILLHAUME, WILLEME, WILLAME, GILLUM, GUILHEM, WILLMET, VUILLAUME and WILM to name but a few. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking). The vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized. WILHELM I (1797-1888) was the seventh king of Prussia and first German emperor, second son of Frederick-William III, born in Berlin. In 1814 he received his 'baptism of fire' on French territory at Bar-sur-Aube, and entered Paris with the allies. During the king's absence in Russia, he directed Prussian military affairs. In 1840 he became heir-presumptive and in 1844 he visited England and formed a friendship with Queen Victoria and Albert, the Prince Consort. During the revolution of 1848 his attitude towards the people made him very unpopular. He was obliged to quit Prussia, and took up quarters at the Prussian Legation in London. Within two months, however he received his recall. At Versailles on 18th January, 1871, he was proclaimed German emperor.
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