Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is an English surname. It derives from the female personal name Agatha, meaning the learned one but ultimately from the Ancient Greek "agathos." The first known Agatha was martyred as a Christian in the 3rd Century and her miraculous veil, in the church of Catania, in Sicily, is believed to be a sure defence against the eruptions of Mount Etna, although its effect so far has been muted! Nevertheless it is fitting that St. Agatha should be the patron saint for protection from fire. The name was popular throughout Europe during the Middle Ages usually as the French Agace or the Latin Agacia. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Agass, Aggas, Aggass, Agiss, Aggiss, Agus, Aguss and Agguss. Examples of early surviving recordings include that on December 16th 1704 of John Agass who married Mary Wilde at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, and William Agus, who was christened on February 12th 1787, at St. Leonard's Shoreditch, both in the city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Agace. This was dated 1275, in the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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