This surname MAUSS is a German nickname for someone supposedly resembling a mouse, in appearance or timidity, or else an occupational name for a catcher of mice or rats. The name was derived from the Old German word MAUS. The name was also an Ashkenazic Jewish name, from the German word MAUS, one of the unflattering surnames imposed on Jews by non-Jewish government officials in the 18th and 19th centuries in central Europe. Nicknames usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. The name has numerous variant spellings which include MAUSER, MEUSER, MUSTER, MEISLISH, DE MUYS, MUIS, MAUSEL, MEUSEL, MEISEL, MEISSL, MYSZKA, MEISELMAN, MAIZEL and MAJZELS. A notable member of the name was Peter Paul Von MAUSER (1838-1914) the German fire-arm inventor, born in Oberndorf, Neckar. With his brother Wilhelm (1834-82) he was responsible for the improved needle-gun (adopted by the German army in 1871) and for the improved breech-loading cannon. He produced the MAUSER magazine rifle in 1897. 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. Another notable of the name was Marcel MAUSS (1872-1950) the French sociologist and anthropologist, born in Epinal, Lorraine. In 1901 he became professor in the philosophy and religion of 'non-civilized' peoples, and in 1925 was co-founder of the Institute of Ethnology at Paris University. 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.
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