1. Introduction


efore I begin in the telling of the history of the name Witzel, I must first caution the reader of the many views held by the various authors who have written, at least in part, on the subject. Each author writes from his own personal perspective, often, it seems, without seeing too far beyond his own immediate purpose(1). This wide range of opinions forces, as a consequence, a search for a more meaningful resolution. I intend to treat each individual author with the utmost respect and will attempt to present their view as it was intended. I will also offer the results from my own research; so that, when all is said and done, the reader stands to draw from a treasury of information and then, drawing from his own intuition, can come to his own conclusions as to which aspects of this history hold best against the others.

In the hope of beginning in a simple way, I first offer this concise history prepared by the researchers at The Historical Research Center. This short definition serves to quickly outline the points that will be presented in the following sections. I often return to this history. Each time I find in it a refreshed insight into its implied and well stated definitions.

The German surname Witzel is of patronymic origin, deriving from the name of the father of the original bearer. In this instance, the surname Witzel derives from the personal name Wizo, which in turn has two different origins. First, the personal name Wizo is a pet form of personal names deriving from the root word 'wid' which derives from the Old High German 'witu' meaning 'forest, wood', also from the Old High German 'wit' meaning 'wide'. Research also indicates possible origin coming from the Old High German 'wizzi' meaning 'wise'. The personal name Wizo is also found as a pet form of Germanic names deriving from the root 'wig', which in turn derives from the Gothic 'weihan' meaning 'battle, fight' and also from the Gothic 'weihan' here meaning 'to bless'. Some etymologists believe, that the personal name Witzel is a pet form of the Germanic personal name Werner, which derives from the Old High German 'waeren' meaning 'to protect'.

The surname Witzel and its variant forms of Witze, Witzl, Witschel and Witzlin can be found in documents dating back to the eleventh century, which make it one the earliest recorded Germanic surnames. One Wicilinus Wernher was the bishop of Strassburg in the year 1020. Wizo Badeloga was residing in Köln (Cologne) in the year 1142. Documents for the year 1293 indicate one Wicelo was the abbot of Georgental, near Gotha. One named Wiczel was a resident of Grevendorf, as documents for the year 1416 indicate. A coat of arms was granted to Wernher Witzl in Augsburg in the year 1496. »

What is perhaps most key here is the linking of the name Witzel to the personal name Wizo. This early form of the name can be established through the study of biographies that tell of persons whose name is related to Witzel. Each story offers some evidence toward a better understanding of how the name changes over time. These studies serve then to broaden our view. And a strong linguistic understanding begins to become possible.

But first, I begin with a collection of biographies and articles that establish the first use of the personal name Witzel as a last name. Very quickly you will discover the validity of a Witzel homeland to be found in central Germany. Only slowly does the name move beyond the neighboring small German towns that are likely the homes of your family's first generations.

     (1) For example, despite the reknown of a resource such as Duden's Familien Namen, it is not too difficult to see the lack of certainty in the suggested trail of definitions.



Witzel. The Historical Research Center. 2004. »



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