The famous biblical names Joseph, Isaac, and Abraham for example, were first introduced into Britain by the returning Crusaders and Pilgrims of the 11th century a.d. onwards. These became in time Christian surnames, and they also developed a wide range of alternative short form or nickname, spellings. In this case the names Jess, Gesse, Jesse, Jessey, Gees, and Gass, all developed from the name Joseph. We believe that Jeske and Jeseweek, which may have referred to a saints week, are from the same source. Jeseweek, a very rare and now probably extinct surname, is recorded in Northumberland in Elizabethan times, an example being Marie Jeseweek who married John Sparke at St Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne, on December 15th 1595. The name Joseph translates as "god may add to", although the precise meaning in the ancient times was probably quite different.. Joseph became popular in England after the 10th century, with Josephus of London being recorded in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, and Joseph of Lincoln appears in the Danelaw Rolls of the year 1147. Later examples which show the development of the short forms include Abraham Gasse, at St Brides church, Fleet Street, city of London, on March 13th 1588, Anne Gesse, at St Mary Whitechapel, on March 29th 1635, and Alexander Jeske at Morpeth Parish church, Northumberland, on June 2nd 1634. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Henry Joseph, which was dated 1191, in the pipe rolls of the county of Hampshire. This was during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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