This is a rare form of a German surname usually recorded as "Neitzel". It is a good example of how far a name spelling and pronunciation can move away from its distant origins. It certainly takes some believing that Niesel or Nietzal could actually derive from the Ancient Greek " Dionysus" but that is the way with surnames, they are stranger than fiction, and much more interesting. The English version of "Dionysus" meaning "the follower" is Denis, and Denis derives directly from St. Denis a martyred bishop of Paris in the 3rd century a.d. The German form seems to have followed a route which included Deniset, a French diminutive, which was then foreshortened to "Niset" - and then to the modern spelling. What seems to be clear is that the name achieved popularity in all its various spelling and throughout Europe from the 12th century onwards. The recordings in Germany are erratic but examples are as follows - Gottlieb Wilhelm Niesel, son of Johann and Constantia Niesal, christened at Langenau bei Danzig, Westpreussen, on March 13th 1819. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mira Neisal, which was dated September 26th 1674, christened at Baesweiler Roman Catholic Church, Rheinland, during the reign of Emperor Leopold 1, of the German Empire, 1658 - 1705. 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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