This Italian surname of VANZEE was a topographic name for someone who lived by the sea-shore or beside a lake. The name is also spelt VANZEE, DEVANZO, VANZO, VANZETTO and VANZETTI. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. 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. A notable member of the name was Bartolomeo VANZETTI (died. 1927) the Italian anarchist, resident in the USA. Following the murders of a paymaster and a guard at a shoe factory in South Braintree, Mass (April 1920) they were tried and convicted at Dedham in 1921 on circumstantial evidence. Because they were anarchists, it was widely believed they were the victims of political prejudice. International protests followed but appeals were refused and they were electrocuted. In 1977 both were given posthumous pardons. Further research suggests that VANZETTI was innocent. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed.
The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnanimity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America.
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