This Italian surname VISCO which comes via the Latin EPISKOPOS meant an overseer from EPI (on, over) and SKOPEIN (to look). The Greek word was adopted early in the Christian era as a title for an overseer of a local community of Christians and has yielded variant spellings in every European language. The name came to be applied as a surname for a variety of reasons, among them service in the household of a bishop, supposed resemblance in bearing or appearance to a bishop, and as 'boy bishop' on St. Nicholas day. 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 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. Social conditions in Southern Italy during the agricultural depression of the late 19th Century spurred the first wave of emigration as thousands of people escaped to the New World. Latin America was the original destination for these early settlers but as the economy strengthened in the United States, North America became more popular. By the end of the 19th Century there were more Italian migrants in the USA than from any other country. In the Post-War era more than a quarter of Italy's population left the country to find a new life in America and Australia. While many Italian names have survived intact, many families chose to anglicise their surnames to fit in with their new country. The names of many more were altered on arrival in America by Ellis Island immigration officials who inadvertently changed names through misunderstanding or mis-spelling as they documented details of the new settlers.
Other spellings of the name include EVESQUE, LEVESQUE, LEVEQUE, VESCOVA, VESCHI and VISPO, to name but a few.
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