This French surname of PIRONE 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 PIRON, PETER, PETRE, PEDRO, PEIDRO, PEET, PEAT, PEADIE, PITOLLI, PERULLI, and POSSE, to name but a few. 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. Alexis PIRON (1689-1773) was the French poet, playwright and wit, born in Dijon. His works include the comic opera 'Endriaque' (1723) and a variety of plays. As early as the year 1100, it was quite common for English people to give French names to their children, and the earliest instances are found among the upper classes, both the clergy and the patrician families. The Norman-French names used were generally the names most commonly used by the Normans, who had introduced them into England during the Norman Invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066. 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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