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Vivoni Coat of Arms / Vivoni Family Crest

The Italian surname of VIVONI was a baptismal name 'the son of Vyvyan'. It was the name of the enchantress of King Arthur's Court, and for that reason became a favourite font name in early times. The name was also borne by a 5th century bishop of Saintes and was popular among the Normans, by whom it was introduced into England. The name has numerous variants which include VIVIEN, VYVYAN, VIDGEON, VIGEON, VIVANT, FIDKIN, VIENNET, VIANEY and VIENNOTT to name but a few. 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. Early records of the name mention Vivianus Gernet, County Lancashire who was documented during the reign of Henry III (1216-1272) and Viviana filius Clementi, was recorded during the reign of Edward II (1307-1327). Humphrey Vivian, County Merioneth, registered at Oxford University in the year 1586. Michael Vivian of County Cornwall, registered at the same University in the year 1593. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. A notable member of the name was Antonio VIVARINI (15th century) the Venetian painter. He first worked in partnership with his brother-in-law Giovanni, and later with his brother Bartolommeo VIVARINI. His paintings were most often of Madonas and Saints.

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Last Updated: May 9, 2020

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