Despite evidence that hereditary surnames were in use in the Venetian Republic as early as the 10th Century, the origin of many Italian surnames is unclear. There is still a great potential for research into medieval Italian records while documented evidence indicates the adoption of the father's name as a surname is the most common form. The familiar endings of "i" and "o", meaning to be a member of a certain family, bears this out. This Italian and French surname of PIGNATELLI is of two-fold origin. It was an occupational name for someone who looked after the spa, the place with a mineral spring. It was also a name which was applied to a pilgrim, a person who had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, or to some seat of devotion in Europe such as Santiago de Compostella, Rome, or the tomb of St. Thomas a Becket at Canterbury. Such pilgrimages were often imposed as penances, graver sins requiring more arduous journeys. The word 'pilgrim' is from ancient words PILEGRIM or PELGRIM meaning a traveller abroad, and was originally derived from the Latin 'Per agros'. The name was occasionally used as a given name, and the surname in some cases may be derived from this use. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. Other spellings of the name include PILGRAM, PIGGREM, PELEGRIN, PELGRIM, PELLEGRIN and PELGRAM, to name but a few. Edouard PIGNON, born in 1905 is the French painter, born in Marles-les-Mines. He was much influenced by the Cubists. Many of his pictures are studies of miners, for instance 'Mineur Mort' (1952) and of harvest scenes and peasants. 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.
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