This surname of PIETERS was a baptismal name meaning 'the son of PETER'. The name was extremely popular throughout Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, as it had been bestowed by Christ as a byname on the apostle Simon bar Jonah, the brother of Andrew. The name was chosen for its symbolic significance, and is a translation of the Aramaic 'kefa' meaning a rock. St. PETER is regarded as the founding father of the Christian Church in view of Christ's comment 'Thou art PETER and upon this rock I will build my Church'. In Christian Germany in the 14th century it was the most frequent given name. In England the vernacular form of PIERS was usual at the time when surnames were being assumed. The name has numerous variant spellings which include PETER, PETRE, PEDRO, PEIDRO, PEET, PEAT, PEADIE, PITOLLI, PERULLI, and POSSE, to name but a few. A notable member of the name was PIETRO Martire Vermigli (PIETRO Martyr) born in 1500, the Florentine reformer. He became Augustinian canon and abbot at Spoleto and Naples. He became very unpopular with his order in 1541, owing to his rigour, and he was sent to Lucca as prior. There he came under the influence of the Spanish reformer Juan de Valdes, and soon fell under the suspicions of the Inquisition, and he fled to Zurich in 1542. In 1547 he went to England, and was professor of divinity at Oxford (1541-53). His 'Loci Cummunes' was printed in London in 1575. He died in 1562. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is often assumed that men 'adopted' their surnames. Some certainly did, but the individual himself had no need for a label to distinguish him from his fellows. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each knight owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized. Monasteries drew up surveys and extents with details of tenants of all classes in their services. Any description which identified the man was satisfactory, his father's name, the name of his land, or a nickname known to be his. The upper classes mostly illiterate, were those with whom the officials were chiefly concerned and among them surnames first became numerous and hereditary.
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