The surname WERT is of German origin. A locational name 'the dweller on the independent farm' a place where one would be totally self sufficient. Local names usually denoted where a man held land. There were several small places of this name in Germany. The name is also spelt WIRTH and WIRTHE. Surnames are divided into four categories, from occupations, nicknames, baptismal and locational. All the main types of these are found in German-speaking areas, and names derived from occupations and from nicknames are particularly common. A number of these are Jewish. Patronymic surnames are derived from vernacular Germanic given names, often honouring Christian saints. Regional and ethnic names are also common. The German preposition 'von (from) or 'of', used with habitation names, is taken as a mark of aristocracy, and usually denoted proprietorship of the village or estate from where they came. Some members of the nobility affected the form VON UND ZU with their titles. In eastern Germany there was a heavy influence both from and on neighbouring Slavonic languages. Many Prussian surnames are of Slavonic origin. A notable member of the name was Philip Peter Jacob WIRTH (1864-1937) the Australian circus proprietor of German descent, born in Victoria. His family moved to Queensland, where his father joined a travelling circus. In 1878 his father, Peter and his three brothers formed their own troupe, touring New South Wales and Queensland in a second-hand stagecoach. Within four years the circus had grown so popular that a special train had to be chartered for its tours, and in 1891 it visited New Zealand. A world tour later took in South Africa, South America and England and the circus returned through Asia to establish permanent bases in Sydney and Melbourne. The circus become an Australian tradition, and the sons and daughters of the original boys continued the family tradition until the 1960's. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him.
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