This long-established and interesting surname is of Old Germanic origin, and is a German topographical name given to a dweller on land overgrown with sedge or bent grass, from the Germanic word "binse", meaning rushes. Variants of this surname in the modern idiom include Bies, Biese, and Biesemann. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, as both natural and man-made features provided easily recognisable distinguishing surnames in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The Germanic element mentioned above is also found in the German placenames Bessenbach, Biesenthal, Biesewig, Biesenkamp, Besenhorst, Besenbruch and Besenkamp. The surname is to be found chiefly around Rostock, on the north German coast, where it is first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), while Johannas Bese appears in 1283 in Stralsund, Germany. Catharina Besen was christened on November 7th 1613, at Launigen, Braunschweig, while the christening of Hennie, son of Hennig Beese, took place at Abbenrode, Braunschweig, on February 20th 1681. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry (de) Besen, which was dated 1282, in "Medieval Records of Rostock", during the reign of King Otho 1V of Prussia, 1282 - 1309. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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