This famous name is of early medieval German origin, and is found particularly in the Niederrhein area of the country. It is an occupational surname for someone employed in making wheels or carts, a wheelwright or cartwright, and is one of a group of similar surnames dating from the main period of European surname formation, when important skills were marked by becoming surnames. Examples of other names for wheelwrights and carters are Essenmacher, Achsenmacher, Wagner, and Stellmacher. Such job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Examples of the name from German Church Registers include: the marriage of Leonardus Esser and Agnes Knoren in Heinsburg, Rheinland, in 1587; and the christening of Jacobus, son of Johan and Giertgen Esser, on October 4th 1599, at Aldenhoven Juelich, Rheinland. A Coat of Arms granted to the family, and depicted in Rietstap's "Armorial General", shows a sinister arm, armed in silver, holding in the hand proper a silver sword edged with gold threaded through a gold crown, on a red shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jan Esser, which was dated 1585, marriage to Heil. Ketelbuiter, at Heinsberg, Rheinland, Germany, during the reign of Rudolf 11, Holy Roman Emperor, 1576 - 1612. 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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