This ancient surname with over one hundred spelling forms, is found throughout Europe. The range of spellings are from Isaac, Eisik, Aizic, and Yitshak, to Ishaki, Istcovitz, Kissack, and Izygson! Confusingly, this surname, when created in the 12th century, was not a Jewish surname, although of Hebrew origins, and was almost always Christian. This did change from the 16th century, although even then most Jewish forms retain their special spelling. However spelt all do derive from the Hebrew male given name "Yitschak", a derivative of "tsachak", meaning to laugh. This name was given to the son of Abraham and Sarah, and popular etymology connects the meaning with Sarah's laughter, and her joy at bearing a son in her old age. The Greek translators of the Old Testament rendered "Yitschak" as "Isaak"; it was then Latinized into Isaac. The "European" form of the personal name and subsequent surname, was most associated with the famous Crusades of the 11th and 12th centuries. It was the practice for returning warriors from the Holy Land to call their children by biblical or hebrew names, and this is a good example. Early recordings of the name include in Germany in 1181, Isaak, the priest of Weibenstein, and later in England, Henry Isaac, of the city of Worcester, in the year1275. A Coat of Arms granted to the Isaac family of Devonshire in the reign of Henry 111 (1216 - 1272) is a shield divided per pale azure and purple with a gold cross flory. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Conrad Ysak, which was dated 1170, in the charters of Koln, Germany. Over the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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