This French surname of MARCEAU was originally from the Latin Marcus, the personal name of St Mark the Evangelist, author of the second Gospel. The name was borne also by a number of other early Christian saints. MARCUS was an old Roman name of uncertain etymology; it may have some connection with the war God Mars. The given name was not as popular in England in the Middle Ages as it was on the Continent, especially in Italy, where the evangelist became the patron of Venice and the Venetian Republic, and was allegedly buried at Aquileia. The name is also spelt MARK, MARCELLO, MARCOUX, MARCEAU, MARCELLET and MARCELEAU. Benedetto MARCELLO (1686-1739) was the Italian composer, born in Venice. He was a judge of the Venetian republic and a member of the Council of Forty, and afterwards held offices at Pola and Brescia. As a composer he is remembered for his 'Estro Poetico Arnmonico' (1724-27) an eight-volume collection of settings for 50 of the Psalms of David. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name. America was colonized by peoples from all over the world in a very short period of time, and mostly, in the case of French immigrants they have stayed together in Louisiana. Of the early immigrants to America the French have fared the worst in respect of their names, chiefly because of the difficulties experienced by the Americans in pronouncing them correctly. Many have been translated into English names. In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84.
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