This French, Spanish and Italian surname of NACE was a medieval given name, rendered in ancient documents in the Latin form EGNATIUS. It was a Roman family name of uncertain origin. The spelling IGNATIUS appeared in the early Christian era, partly due to folk law and superstition with the Latin word IGNIS, meaning fire. In this form the name was borne by an early bishop of Antioch, who was martyred at Rome under Trajan. As a given name it was not common in the Middle Ages, and the surname is correspondingly infrequent. Its popularity in Catholic countries today is due to the fame of St. IGNATIUS Loyola (1491-1556) founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The name has numerous variant spellings which include INIGO, INACIO, NAATZ, HNAT, IGNATOV, IGNATYEV and IGNASHEV to name but a few. In the 8th century, Spain fell under the control of the Moors, and this influence, which lasted into the 12th century, has also left its mark on Hispanic surnames. A few names are based directly on Arabic personal names. The majority of Spanish occupational and nickname surnames, however, are based on ordinary Spanish derivatives. 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. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name.
America was colonized by peoples from all over the world in a very short period of time, and mostly, in the case of French immigrants they have stayed together in Louisiana. Of the early immigrants to America the French have fared the worst in respect of their names, chiefly because of the difficulties experienced by the Americans in pronouncing them correctly. Many have been translated into English names.
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