The surname of GIESE originally a Norman personal name composed of the elements GISIL (hostage, noble youth) and BERHT (bright, famous). The name meant 'the son of Giselbert'. This given name enjoyed considerable popularity in England in the Middle Ages, partly as a result of the fame of St. Gilbert of Sempringham (1085-1189) the founder of the only native monastic order. This at one time had over twenty houses, but became extinct on the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GEISSLER, GIESSLER, GILBERD, GILBEART, JELBART, GIESEBRECHT, GELBERT, GIJSEN and GIBBE to name but a few. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name. As early as the year 1100, it was quite common for English people to give French names to their children, and the earliest instances are found among the upper classes, both the clergy and the patrician families. The Norman-French names used were generally the names most commonly used by the Normans, who had introduced them into England during the Norman Invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066.
A notable member of this name was Heinrich GEISSLER (l8l4-79) German inventor, born in Saxony. He became a glass-blower and settled in Bonn in l854. The Geissler tube, by which the passage of electricity through rarefied gases can be seen and the Geissler mercury pump, are among his inventions.
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