This Italian surname COVELEY was derived amazingly from the Hebrew given name Yaakov, via the Latin Jacobus. In the Bible this is the name of the younger twin brother of Esau who took advantage of the lack of hunger and impetuousness to persuade him to part with his birthright 'for a mess of potage'. The name is traditionally interpreted as coming from Hebrew AKEV (heel) and Jacob is said to have been born holding on to Esau's heel. The name has travelled widely and the principal forms of the given name in major European languages are Jacob, Jacques, Giacovo, Giacopo and Iacopo. Throughout Eastern Europe Jewish forms of the name were extremely common, ranging from Yaakov to Jankl. As the agricultural depression of southern Italy worsened towards the end of the 19th century, people began to escape to the New World. The exodus started in earnest in 1887 with Brazil and other parts of Latin America being the original destinations. By 1893, the economy had improved in the United States and people headed there from Italy in greater and greater numbers. In 1898 there were more Italian immigrants to the USA than from any other country. In the post war era, more than a quarter of Italians left the country for a new life. They joined a flood of immigrants to America which was averaging a million a year in the pre war years. 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. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. A notable member of the name was Pero de COVILHA (circa.1460-1526) the Portugese explorer. He was sent by John II to explore Africa and the East. He left Portugal in 1487 and travelled via Aden to India, visiting Cannanore, Calicut and Goa. Later he set off from Cairo for Ethiopia. There he ended his days, honoured by forcibly detained.
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