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Home: Surnames: Dewees Family Genealogy Forum

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Posted by: Larry van der Laan (ID *****1274) Date: March 08, 2005 at 00:14:43
In Reply to: Re: ORIGIN OF ENGLISH "DEWIS" by Jon Dewis of 192

Trying to understand the origins of a family name involves knowing some general facts about history.

It is not impossible, in my interpretation, that the origins of the de Wys/ de Wijs name, which in Dutch is pronounced de Wees, had its origins in Wallonia, a region in Europe NOW partly in France and partly in Belgium.

During the reformation time in the sixteenth century , those following the teachings of a protester divine in opposition to the Catholic faith, became known as 'protestants' .

Since Wallonia was a 'land' or province of the region in Europe called : the Nether Lands or Low Lands and were all under control of the king of Spain, many in those 'lands' in 1568 presented a petition to the Spanish governor, residing in Brussels, to allow 'protestants' their interpretation of the bible. This was not even considered and thus followed a war of rebellion ending in 1648, after eighty years.

At the peace negotiations in Munster, Westfalia', a line was drawn between the armies as they were, resulting in a division of the Nether Lands, into a north and south, the north allowing all religions and became known as a republic or 'The Seven United Provinces of the Netherlands", while those of the south remained with the king and became known as the Spanish Netherlands.

Those 'protestants' of Flanders province, where even the then king of Spain was born, as well as other southern provinces went north to the republic, west to England or east to the lands or territories in Germany, where some ruler would allow them and others would not.

Since the people of Europe have to deal with language borders as well, those of the Spanish Netherlands also had, and still have to deal with those who speak Dutch or Flemish and those who speak French.
Their governor in Brussels spoke Spanish.

The 'protestants' of France, there called: Huguenots, at first were allowed their new religions, later not. They too went, later fled for their life, elsewhere. Needless to say that traditional families were split between religions.

Hence it would not be unlikely and interesting to find out if de Wys/ de Wees, or whatever the original spelling might have been, also branched out to the many 'french' settlements in southeastern England, such as Canterbury, London and Norwich, the then capital.

Of those moving to the new Republic, their siblings were able to try their luck in parts of the world, under their control, such as the East Indies, South Africa (we are still enjoying wine their wine) and of course the New World, i.e. New Netherland in America.

Many pursued the profession of weaving , even among the early de Wees children of New Netherland, later New York and Pennsylvania.

What I have not seen understood in the 'de Wees/ Dewees' genealogy is, that the former settlements of New Netherland along, what they called, the South River, were eventually granted by the king of England to William Penn, and thus became known as 'the Lower Counties' of Pennsylvania. We find our 'de Wees' offspring settling there.
After the war of US independence, those lower counties became known as 'Delaware' and their motto is "the First State".

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