This Russian surname of YESKE was a baptismal name 'the son of Joseph' from the Hebrew given name JOSEF 'May God add another son', an ancient font name. In medieval Europe this name was borne frequently, but by no means exclusively by Jews. In the Book of Genesis, Joseph is the favourite son of Jacob, who is sold into slavery by his brothers, but rises to become a leading minister in Egypt. In the New Testament Joseph is the husband of the Virgin Mary. The name has numerous variant spellings which include JOZEPH, JOSEFS, YESKOV, YESKIN, YESENEV, YESINOV, YESININ, ISKOV, JOZWICKI, YOSKO and JOSSELEVITZ to name but a few. Russian surnames are almost exclusively patronymic (occasionally metronymic) in form, usually ending in 'ov' or 'ev'. Habitation and topographic names are rare, and many common Russian surnames are polygenetic, and their literal meaning is clear, even though the reason for their adoption may not be. Heraldry appeared later in Russia than in most other Western European countries. It is generally agreed that it was copied from the west sometime in the late 17th century, and quickly achieved state significance. In 1722 Emperor Peter I (The Great) established an official Heraldry Office headed by a Master of Heraldry under the jurisdiction of the Senate, and granted 355 armorial bearings in the 18th century. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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