The surname of MATTEO was a baptismal name 'the son of Mathew'. The name was found in medieval registers throughout Europe and means 'gracious gift of Jehovah'. It was an exceedingly popular font name during the 11th and 12th Centuries. This given name was of biblical origin, ultimately from the Hebrew male font name MATITYAHU, recorded in the Greek New Testament in the form MATTHIAS. The name has numerous variant spellings which include MATHEW, MATHEY, MATHIE, MATHYS, MATEO, MATAS, MATTASER and MATESSIAN, to name but a few. 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. A notable person of this name is Georges MATHIEU, a French painter born in 1921. His abstract work has been exhibited in Paris and New York. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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