This surname of MUSSEY is the Americanized form of the name MUSSOLINI which was an Italian nickname for some supposed resemblance to a gnat - one who was irritating. Nicknames usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. The name is also spelt MUSSOLINI and MUSOLINI. 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. Families deriving their titles from popes have incorporated papal insignia in their arms, notably the papal tiara and the crossed keys. The heraldry is reflected by the history of the country which has been used as a battlefield for successive German, French, Spanish and Austrian invaders. Italian heraldry has however developed certain characteristics shown by the use of horse-head shaped shields which were put on the foreheads of horses at tournaments. Crests are rare but when they do appear are quite ostentatious. An infamous member of the name was Benito MUSSOLINI (1883-1945) the Italian dictator, born a blacksmith's son at Predappio, near Forli, Romagna. He edited the socialist 'Avanti', but after serving in World War I founded the 'Popolo d'Italia' and organized the Fascisti as militant nationalists to defeat socialism. In October 1922 his blackshirts marched on Rome and 'Il Duce' established himself a dictator by melodramatic means. On 28th April 1945, he and other Fascists were caught by Italians at Dongo on the Lake of Como, and after some form of trial, shot. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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