This English surname of WIERMAN was an ancient occupational name meaning one who dealt in wine, either in the making or selling of the grapes or the fermenting of the wine. Other spellings of the name include WYRMAN, WYREMAN, WYRE, WIRE, WIRES and WIREMANN. During the Middle Ages the manufacture and fermenting of wines and ale was necessary in every small village. Ale was the people's food in liquid form, and was consumed by everybody at all times. The extreme poverty of the Franciscans when they first settled in London was noted by a writer at the time 'I have seen the brothers drink ale so sour that some would have preferred to drink water'. In early times each villager usually brewed his own drink although he often had to pay the lord of the manor for the privilege of using his equipment. In later times the manufacture of ales and wine became an important monastic industry. The earliest of the name on record appears to be WIR (without surname) who was recorded in Lancashire in the year 1184, and WIRA (without surname) was documented in the year 1205. 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. Later instances of the name include Robert le WYRMANN, who was recorded in Yorkshire in the year 1273, and Adam WIREMANN of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. 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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