This Polish surname is a patronymic, and one of the various forms which derived originally from an old pre-medieval German personal nickname "Zenke(r)" or "Zenge(r)". The name translates as "the active or lively one", and perhaps not surprisingly was a popular surname in its own right. In the Polish form, "(o)wicz" meaning "son of" or "ski" which in this case has the same meaning, were often added as a suffix, whilst in Russia, a double diminutive was recorded in the case of Zofia Zienowiczowna, who was born at Polotsz, in 1615. As in many parts of the world, dialect affects the spelling, and it would seem that the base name also appears in the early recordings as Zienher, Zienie, and Zeime, to add further confusion. Recordings of examples of spellings include: Martin Zienke, at Berlin in 1718, Heinrich Zienker, also Berlin in 1751, Thomas Zienkowski of Kieleckeigo, Poland, in 1817, and Antonia Ziemkiewicz, married at Koscielnawies, on November 30th 1832. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Laurentius Zieniewicz, which was dated August 12th 1829, christened at Rzeszowskiego, Poland, during the reign of Emperor Nicholas 1 of Russia, 1826 - 1855. 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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