Recorded in several spelling forms including Dresse, Dressel, Dresser and Dressi, this is a French surname. It is probably occupational and if so derives from the medieval 'dressoir', to describe either a designer of 'dress', meaning all manner of garments and as much male as female, or in the theatrical sense, one who 'dressed' the cast. Many European surnames such as Le Roi and Leroy, or in English 'King', are directly connected with the medieval theatre, in that the original nameholders were not related to a 'king', but were cast names for men who played the part of a king in the popular plays and pageants, which provided much of the street entainment in olden times. Without actually being present when surnames were bestowed on the original nameholder(s), it is often not possible seven hundred years or more later, to say with exactitude what the precise meaning was at the time. In this case surname recordings are post medieval. This is not unusual with French registers as many were lost or deliberately destroyed during the 1792 Revolution, as they were associated by the 'public' with the Secret Police. Surviving examples include: Barthelemy Dressel, the son of Barthelemy and Elizabeth Dressel, born at Velain-en-Haye, Meurthe et Moselle, on April 21st 1750, Francois Dresse, the son of Jean Dresse, born at Givet, in the Ardennes, on March 15th 1822, and Ferdinand Dressi, a witness at Luneville, Meurthe et Moselle, on December 29th 1851.
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