Recorded in several forms including Theis, Theise, Theze, Theuss, and others, this surname in these spellings was arguably Westphalian (German). However spelt it is a short form of the given name Mathiess, itself a form of Matthew. As a personal name, Matthew and its many variations, have been popular in Northern Europe since the famous Christian Crusades to free the Holy Land from the Muslims in the 12th century. Although all twelve crusades were ultimately unsuccessful, it became popular to give children biblical names associated with the Christian revival. The derivation is ultimately from the Hebrew male given name "Matityahu" meaning a Gift of God, and recorded in the Greek New Testament as Mattaias". In Latin, this became Matthias and Mathius, the former used for the apostle and the latter for the Evangelist, although the distinction is no longer made. In Germany, it became popular to foreshorten these names and Mathiess gradually dropped the first element "Ma" to become Thiess or Theuss. The first recorded spelling of the family name in England is shown to be that of Jacob Theis. This was dated May 17th 1749, when he was christened at St. Anne's Westminister, during the reign of King George IInd, known as the Last Warrior King, 1727 - 1760. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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