Family Name and Coat of Arms
Von Zerssen Coat of Arms
The family name
Zersen/Zerssen is a place name with roots going back to the village of
Zersen, Germany. The village itself is over 1000 years old.
The earliest known
representatives of the name Zersen/Zerssen use the double “s”. People
from the village worked for the Prince of the Castle Schaumburg, a few
miles away from the village. In the 13th century, they began to name
themselves after their place of origin. The first such documented name
is Bertram de Chersene (or de Cersne) who died in 1266.
Those who worked for
the Schaumburg prince left their roles as farmers in Zersen and held
various appointments. Some simply worked at the castle, others served
in military capacities as knights, and some became free citizens of
towns. Often their place of origin, Zersen, became not only their
surname, but a kind of distinctive title, employing the German word
“von.” This word is used as a mark of nobility by these “von Zerssens”
Two of the von
Zerssen family lines have died out and only one remains, the
Statdhagener line desecended from Walter III. (mentioned in records
from 1261-1307). He was a knight and ultimately the mayor of Stadthagen.
Today the German
telephone directory lists only five family units descended from this
line. They have a coat of arms which portrays a pothook beneath a
knight's helmet, showing both the rural and royal descent.
All other living
Zersen/Zerssens are descended from Cord Zersen who was born in
Hammelspringe in 1623. Other family lines with the name Zersen may once
have lived in the village or in other places, but all the Zersen family
units today listed in phone directories in Germany (10) and the United
States (23) are related. One family that uses the double “s” spelling
is also related.
Only one Zersen, Carl
Ludwig, imigrated from Haddessen to the United States in 1857. All
Zersens and members of the extended Zersen family in the U.S. are
descended from him.
In all, there are
only 38 Zersen/Zerssen family units in the world, a very ancient and a
very small group.
Current research is
trying to establish when the Zersen family left the village of Zersen
and how they may be related to members of the von Zerssen line.
Various spellings of
the name from 1432-1564 include: von Zerssen, von Tserssen, von
Certzen. von Tzertzen, von Zertzen, vann Zertzenn, von Sertzen, von
Certsen, von Zerzen, von Zersen.
Dr. Hans-Dietrich von Zerssen and Dr. David Zersen admiring the Wappenbuch (Giessen, Germany)