This Italian-Sicilian surname has at least three possible origins. The dictionary of Italian Surnames has in its introduction that 'the subject (of Italian surnames) is unusually complicated', and this is an understatement! Italian surnames unlike any other European country, were not 'fixed' in hereditary spellings, in many cases not until as recently as 1950, making it very difficult for the genealogist and the etymologist to establish the true identity. Furthermore (quote) 'many surnames do not really signify what they superficially imply'. In this case and keeping in mind that warning, we believe that 'Alu' was originally a metonymic which described a fisherman, and perhaps more specifically, one who fished for 'pickerel'. Given that the name is from Sicily and that many people obtained their living from the sea, this seems a logical explanation. However the name may also be a derivative of 'Alunno' meaning a student, or even Alui, which seems to be a developed form of the original German 'Hlodwig', meaning 'War-fame'. The French 'Louis', and the English 'Lewis' were derived from the same source. To add to the confusion because Italy did not become a unified state until as late as 1860, record keeping was always haphazard or sometimes non existent. In this case we do have several recordings from the early 19th century and these include the first named below who had two sons by his wife, the former Providentia Bottalli. These were Giovanni Alu, born at Palermo on July 22nd 1831, and Guiseppe Alu, born at the same place on November 4th 1832. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Guiseppe Alu, which was dated June 1st 1830, married at Palermo, Sicily, Italy, during the reign of Pope Pius V111, reigned from 1828 to 1830. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as 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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