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Gennaro Coat of Arms / Gennaro Family Crest

Gennaro Coat of Arms / Gennaro Family Crest

The surname of GENNARO was of two fold origin. It was a name given to 'one from Genoa' in Liguria. Genoa was one of the greatest seaports of the Mediterranean in medieval times, and merchants and master mariners from there were found in all the coastal and trading towns of Europe. The Genoese traded much with England both in silks and in spices. The name was also a nickname for someone who was born or baptised in January, or having some connection with that month. It got its names originally from the Latin Janus, who was the God of gateways and entrances. In some cases the name may reflect the Latin personal name of Januarius, which was borne by a number of early Christian saints, most famously a 3rd century bishop of Benevento who became the patron of Naples. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. Early records of the name mention Benedict de Janua, who was recorded in 1185, and William de Janua appears in 1273 in County Kent. Later instances of the name include Jeremiah Jenowaye, who was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1670, and Sarah, daughter of Richard Jannaway was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1715. John Nibbs and Sarah Johnaway were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1787. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.


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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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