This Italian surname of PIZZEY was a nickname for a small person, originally derived from the Italian word 'piccino' (small). Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. The name has many variant spellings which include PICCIN, PIZZINI, PICCINNI, PIZZZOLO, PIZARRO and DEL PIZZOLO. Despite evidence that hereditary surnames were in use in the Venetian Republic as early as the 10th Century, the origin of many Italian surnames is unclear. There is still a great potential for research into medieval Italian records while documented evidence indicates the adoption of the father's name as a surname is the most common form. The familiar endings of "i" and "o", meaning to be a member of a certain family, bears this out. The Church played a very important role in Central Italian heraldry and many Italian families who derived their titles from popes incorporated elements of the papal insignia, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys, on their Coats of Arms. As in the rest of Europe, the turbulent history of Italy in the Middle Ages is reflected in its heraldry. Traces remain from the successive invasions of the Germans, French, Spanish and Austrians. Certain characteristics, such as the use of horse-shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses during tournaments, remain uniquely Italian. A notable member of the name was Gonzalo PIZARRO (c.1506-1548) the Spanish conquistador, half-brother of Francisco PIZARRO. He accompanied him in the conquest of Peru, and did good service when the Indians besieged Cuzo (1535-36), and in the conquest of Charcas. In 1539 he undertook an expedition to the east of Quito, and endured fearful hardships.
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