This unusual and interesting surname is of German origin, and is from an ethnic name for someone from Russia, derived from the German "Reusse", the Middle High German "riusse", Russian. The name derives ultimately from a Scandinavian term meaning "rower, oarsman", the Russian state having been first established in the 9th Century by Varangian (Norse) settlers who rowed up the rivers from the Baltic. In some cases the name was merely a nickname for someone who had some connection with an East Slavian region.A German noble family called Reuss trace their descent from Erkenbert, Lord of Weida, who was living in 1122; his descendants were appointed imperial stewards of Weida, Gera and Plauen by the Emperor Heinrich V1, in whose honour every male child in the family was called Heinrich. Heinrich the Young, Vogt (governor or steward) of Plauen (1276 - 1292), was bynamed der Reusser "the Russian" because he was the son-in-law of Sophie, daughter of Daniel, King of Galicia. The marriage was recorded in Germany of Hannss Reuss and Catharina Thierman on February 2nd 1553, at Schonbrunn, Oberfranken, Bayern. The surname is popular in America, one of the earliest settlers there was Francis Reuss, aged 40 yrs., from Bremen, who arrived in New York on the ship "Hansa", in February 1863. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is a shield divided per bend gold and azure, with a silver demi horse rampant in the gold section, and two silver bars fesseways in the azure section. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of C. der Reusse, which was dated 1272, recorded at Franken, Germany, during the reign of the Great Interregnum, 1254 - 1273. 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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