The surname of WAHNERT was an occupational name 'the wagoner' a carter or wain-man. The name was of German origin, and arrived in England in about the 16th century. The first hereditary surnames on German soil are found in the second half of the 12th century, slightly later than in England and France. However, it was not until the 16th century that they became stabilized. The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages. Most of the occupations or professions reflected in family names are those known in the small villages in Europe, or those followed in a kings, or an important noble's household, or in some large religious house or monastry. During the Middle Ages much of Europe of composed of small villages, and many families surnames sprang from the occupation of the owner, and to describe a man by his occupation or profession was the most natural way to address a man, and set him apart from others in the neighbourhood.
Early records of the name mention Godemar le Waghener, 1273, County Yorkshire. Edwin Wagner was documented in 1300.
Anthony Wagner and Sarah Harby were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1808.
There are notable members of this name including Richard (Willelm) Wagner (1813-83) the German composer born in Leipzig. He was educated chiefly at Dresden. Apart from his music he was a prolific writer and letters and prose, and many editions and translations have appeared. He wrote an autobiography, 'My Life'.
Otto Wagner (1841-1917) the German economist, born in Erlangen. He was professor at Vienna, Hamburg, Freiburg and Berlin. In his numerous works he represented the historical school and supported state socialism.
Family names are a fashion we have inherited from the times of the Crusades in Europe, when knights identified one another by adding their place of birth to their first or Christian names. With so many knights, this was a very practical step. In the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries the nobles and upper classes, particularly those descended from the knights of the Crusades, recognised the prestige an extra name afforded them, and added the surname to the simple name given to them at birth.
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