Definition: A surname derived from the place of origin of the original bearer, this very common Polish surname indicates a man who originally came from one of dozens of Polish villages named Wisniewo or Wisniew, from the root wisznia, meaning “cherry tree.”
Surname Origin: Polish
Alternate Surname Spellings: WISNIEWSKI, WISNIOWSKI, WISNIOWOLSKI
This surname of WISNIEWSKI is a Polish name of two-fold origin. It was an occupational name for an innkeeper or seller of alcoholic drinks. The name was derived from the Polish word WYSZYNK (sale of alcoholic drinks) + SKI. It was also a habitation name from a place called WISNIEWO, meaning the dweller near the cherry trees. The name is also spelt WYSZYNSKI, WYSZYNSKY, WISZNIEWSKI, WISIOWSKI and WISNIOWIECKI. The earliest Polish surnames were patronymic. The personal names from which they were derived were mainly Slavonic, but as the Middle Ages progressed, traditional Slavic given names, began to give way to saint’s names, mainly of Latin origin. Surnames derived from Slavonic personal names are of early origin, and tend to be borne by aristocratic families. The suffix SKI is also found as an ending of Russian surnames, but these are usually of Polish origin. It was also used by Ashkenazic Jews. By the time most Jewish people on Polish territory were acquiring family names in the late 18th and 19th centuries, it was already widely used as a general surname suffix. Stefen Cardinal WYSZYNSKI (1901-81) was the Roman Catholic clergyman, born in Zuzela, Poland. He studied at Wloclawek and Lublin, was ordained in 1924, and became Bishop of Lublin in 1946. Archbishop of Warsaw and Gniezno (1948) and a cardinal (1952). Following his indictment of the Communist campaign against the church, he was imprisoned (1953). Freed in 1956, he agreed to a reconciliation between Church and state under the Gomulka regime, but relations remained uneasy. Some names were changed by immigrants whilst on the boat heading for America and Australia. These transformations were usually to names thought by the immigrants to be more respected in their native land than the one he bore. Many Poles added ‘ski’ to their names to attain a higher social status since such names were accorded more respect from people of Polish extraction. Thus a larger proportion of Polish names carried this termination in America and Australia than in Poland.