Image: Family tree showing Hendrik VAN WESSEL - vanwessel.org © 2019

The Hanzetown of Wesel ...

Wesel Coat of Arms

It has often been argued that the name Wessel or van Wessel may have come from the Hanzetown of Wesel in Germany. The town has three weasels (German Wiesel) in it's coat of arms, but despite the common occurance of weasels along this part of the Rhein, it probably has little to do with the origin of the name Wesel. The name Wiesel and Wesel just happen to sound slightly similar. The Weasel was introduced during a period when animals were a popular choise in coats of arms. Paul Bernds (in "Wesel, Lebendige Stadtgeschichte", Part 1) suggests that the town of Wesel is clearly older than the first known use of the coat of arms.

Bernds explains that the oldest known form of Wesel is 'Wisele' or 'Wesele' from 11th and 12th century Latin documents (e.g. the villa Wisele is mentioned in a document from the monastery in Echternach, Luxemburgh). It confirms King Heinrich IV's return of the 9th century wooden church and the villa Wisele to the Monastery of Echternach). 'Wese' or 'wise' translates to Wiese (Weide) which means meadow and sel or sal translates to Siedlung or settlement. The villa Wisele implies that there must have been a large house or farm. This villa in it's meadows or fields adds up to a small estate, the estate of Wesel. (Information taken from the Wesel website)

Please note that the earliest references to the hamlet of Wessel near Barneveld mention Wehsle (1146) and Wesle (1183). These names are close but not identical, so we cannot simply assume that in the 12th century the name Wessel and Wesel referred to the same place.

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