This German late medieval surname is one of a number of spelling forms which include Fetscher, Fetzer and Vetscher. It is strictly speaking a metonymic or nickname for an executioner; however, it is probable that in most cases the name was humorous rather than job-descriptive, as the alternative meaning was one who could be argumentative. German surnames include a wide range of descriptive personal nicknames, and these include such examples as Greulich (dreadful), Grausam (cruel), Rauh (crude), as well as Schoen (beautiful), and Klug (clever) at the other end of the spectrum. The early recording examples include the following: Gregor Fetzer, of Jueterbog, Brandenburg, on November 19th 1646; George Fetscher, of Donaukreis, Wuertt, on April 28th 1708; and Elizabeth Fetschner, who married Casparus Geiger, also at Donaukreis, on November 25th 1806. An early recording as Fatscher is that of Jois Fatscher, and his wife, Barbarae, recorded at the christening of their son, Petrus, at Geisenheim Catholic Church, Nassau, Province of Hessen, on January 14th 1759, whilst Maria Eva Fatscher is recorded at Landstuhl, Pfalz, on August 25th 1825. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Konrad Vetscher, which was dated 1521, of Scheidegg, Voralberg, Germany, during the reign of Charles V, Holy Roman (German) Emperor, 1519 - 1558. 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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