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Le Plesse Coat of Arms / Le Plesse Family Crest

The English and French surname of LE PLESSE was a locational name 'the dweller at the place' i.e. the stead, the farm, a mansion or villa. The surname arose from residence at such a spot. The name was originally rendered in documents in the Latin PLATEAU (meaning a broad street). Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. The name has many variant spellings which include DUPLAIX, DEPLAIX, PLAICE, PLASSEM, LAPLACE, PIAZZA, PLATZER and PLESSIS. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. Armand-Jean de PLESSIS, Cardinal de Richelieu (1585-1642) was chief minister to Louis XIII and virtual ruler of France. The du Plessis family had risen by intermarriage to a position where they could purchase the seigneury of Richelieu in Poitou. The surname is well established in South Africa. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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