This name SANTILLO is of Italian and French origin, and was a nickname for a notably pious individual. The name was originally derived from the Latin SANCTUS (blameless and holy), and was occasionally used in the Middle Ages as a given name, especially on the Continent. Other spellings of the name include SAINT, SAUNT, SANT, SAINTEAU, SAINTIN, SANTELLO, SANTUZZO, SANTULLI, SANTINI and DE SANTI 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. A notable member of the name was Inigo Lopez de Mendoza Marques de SANTILLA (1398-1458) the Spanish scholar, soldier and poet. He led expeditions against the Moors in Spain, but is best known as a patron of the arts. Influenced by the poetry of Dante and Petrarch, he introduced their style and methods into Spanish literature. His shorter poems, especially his pastoral songs, are among his best work, and he was the first Spanish poet to write sonnets. His principal prose 'Carta Proemio' is a discourse on European literature of his day. 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. 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.
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