The Italian surname of ABBATIELLO was originally derived from the Old French word ABED, meaning a priest, a member of the clergy. It was perhaps a nickname for a sanctimonious person, or an occupational name for someone employed in the household of a priest. The male member of a religious order or monastery was an important person in Medieval Europe. It designated the members of the four mendicant orders, which became prominent in the 13th century, the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians. They lived among their fellowmen travelling and preaching throughout the world. The villagers appreciated their courage and service and welcomed them. Some of the members were lay brothers or 'conversi' who lived according to a rule, but were not so strict as the monks or canons. They were illiterate, engaged mainly in manual work, and had their own living quarters. Jews would sometimes convert to Christianity and in 1154 there was a school in Bristol, England for converts. During the 13th century King Henry III founded the House of Converts in Chancery lane, London, as a home for Jews who had abandoned their faith. 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 Scottish cognate ABBIE, in at least one case was an occupational name, borne by a family who provided hereditary lay abbots. The name has numerous variant spellings which include ABBE, LABBEY, LABEZ, ABBATE, LABBA, ABADE and ABOTT, to name but a few. 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 Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685.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.
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