This Italian surname of MAGLIANO is of two fold origin. It was a baptismal name and may have been bestowed on someone born or baptised in the month of May, or may have been used for a nickname for one with a sunny disposition or even of one who had some anecdotal connection with the month of May, such as owing a feudal obligation then. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form MAIUS, from MAIA, a rather obscure goddess of fertility, whose name meant 'greatness'. The name is also spelt MAI, MEI, MEY, MAYO and MAY to name but a few. The name was also applied to someone who made coats of mail, an armorer or smith. The Church played a very important role in Central Italian heraldry and many Italian families who derived their titles from popes incorporated elements of the papal insignia, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys, on their Coats of Arms. As in the rest of Europe, the turbulent history of Italy in the Middle Ages is reflected in its heraldry. Traces remain from the successive invasions of the Germans, French, Spanish and Austrians. Certain characteristics, such as the use of horse-shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses during tournaments, remain uniquely Italian. Social conditions in Southern Italy during the agricultural depression of the late 19th Century spurred the first wave of emigration as thousands of people escaped to the New World. Latin America was the original destination for these early settlers but as the economy strengthened in the United States, North America became more popular. By the end of the 19th Century there were more Italian migrants in the USA than from any other country. In the Post-War era more than a quarter of Italy's population left the country to find a new life in America and Australia. While many Italian names have survived intact, many families chose to anglicise their surnames to fit in with their new country. The names of many more were altered on arrival in America by Ellis Island immigration officials who inadvertently changed names through misunderstanding or mis-spelling as they documented details of the new settlers.
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