This Italian surname of COCO was a baptismal name meaning 'the descendant of COCCI' a pet form of such names as Francoccio and Domenicocci. The surname, now widespread throughout Europe in its many forms of spelling was originally from a medieval given name, from the Latin DOMINICUS meaning 'of the Lord'. The name was borne by a Spanish saint (1170-1221) who founded the Dominican order of monks, and whose fame gave an added boost to the popularity of the name, already well established because of its symbolic value. In 1212 St. Dominic founded the Order of Friars Preachers. Born in Calaruega in Old Castile, he studied at Palencia acquiring such a name for piety and learning that in 1193 the bishop of Osma made him a canon and relied on his help to reform the whole chapter according to the Augustine rule. He led a life of rigorous ascetiscism and devoted himself to missionary labours among Muslims and 'heretics'. In 1204 he accompanied his bishop on a political mission, and had to travel round the south of France three times. By 1220 the Dominicans adopted a poverty so rigid that not even the order as a corporation could hold houses or lands, and thus they forced themselves to become beggars. The order spread all over the world, including France, Italy, Spain and Austria, and in England, from their dress, they became known as the Black Friars. He was canonized in 1234 by Gregory 1X. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
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