This Italian surname of IACOBELLI was an occupational name for a deacon, or perhaps his servant, or a man of the cloth. The name is also spelt DIACONO, JACONI, ZAGO, ZAGHI, DEAK, DIAGONETTI, ZAGHETTI, ZAGHINO, DELLO and the name has been Angliziced to DEAKINS. 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. Central Italian heraldry has been much influenced by the church. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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