This surname DEMELO was an Italian and French nickname from the Old French word 'merle' meaning a blackbird. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form MERULA. This bird seems in the Middle Ages to have been regarded at times as a foolish creature like the magpie, and at other times as a cunning rogue like a jackdaw. In Italy today it is generally thought of as shrewd, but in Milan it is a byword for simplicity, and in Sicily it is noted for its timorousness. The surname could have been acquired in any of these senses. It may also in part have been a metonymic occupational name for a catcher of blackbirds for the cooking pot. The name has many variant spellings which include LEMERLE, LEMESLE, MERLO, MERLOT, MELO and MERLAUD. As the agricultural depression of southern Italy worsened towards the end of the 19th century, people began to escape to the New World. The exodus started in earnest in 1887 with Brazil and other parts of Latin America being the original destinations. By 1893, the economy had improved in the United States and people headed there from Italy in greater and greater numbers. In 1898 there were more Italian immigrants to the USA than from any other country. In the post war era, more than a quarter of Italians left the country for a new life. They joined a flood of immigrants to America which was averaging a million a year in the pre war years. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected.
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