This surname of WENNING is a German occupational name for a maker or seller of winnowing fans which were used to sift and separate the worthless or inferior corn. The name was derived from the Old German WANNE, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form VANNUS. The name is also spelt WANNER, WANNAMAKER and WENNMAKER. Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. A notable member of the name is Sam WANAMAKER, born in 1919, the American actor and director, born in Chicago. He worked with summer stock companies in Chicago as an actor and director from 1936 until 1939, and made his debut in 1942. After serving in World War II he returned to the New York stage in 1946, and in 1952 he made his London debut. He remained in England directing and acting in several plays and in 1957 he was appointed director of the New Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool. In 1970 he founded the Globe Theatre Trust and opened a temporary tent theatre in 1972. Because of the close relationship between the English and German languages, some Germans are able to transform their names to the English form just by dropping a single letter. Many Germans have re-spelt their names in America. A great number of immigrants from Germany settled in Pennsylvania. After the start of the first World War, Germans in great numbers Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism. Afterwards some changed back, and then during World War II the problem became acute once more, and the changing started all over again, although not with as much intensity.
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