This originally Norman surname of WESS was derived from a Germanic personal name composed of the elements WARIN (guard) and HERI (meaning army). The name has two distinct origins, it was a baptismal name 'the son of Warrener' and an occupational name meaning the keeper of the 'warren' a place privileged for the keeping of conies, hares, partridges and pheasants. The name is also spelt WESSE, WESSEL, WERTZ, WORLIN, WESSELMAN, WERNJTES and WESSELING, to name but a few. Surnames which were derived from ancient Germanic personal names have the same meaning in many languages. The court of Charlemagne (Charles the Great, king of the Franks (742-814) was Christian and Latin speaking), the vernacular was the Frankish dialect of Old High German, and the personal names in use were Germanic and vernacular. These names were adopted in many parts of northwest Europe, particularly among the noble ruling classes. Hereditary surnames were found in Germany in the second half of the 12th century - a little later than in England and France. It was about the 16th century that they became stabilized. Notables of the name include Horst WESSEL (1907-30) the German national socialist, born in Bielefeld. He was the composer of the Nazi anthem 'Die Fahne Hoch' known as the Horst WESSEL song. Tom WESSELMAN, born in 1931 is the American painter, born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He studied psychology at Cincinnati University before taking art courses. He moved to New York in 1961, abandoning the Abstract Expressionist style and turning instead to Pop Art. His work includes the series known as 'The Great American Nude'. 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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