This is a surname of Roman-Latin origins. It derives from Franciscus, which was originally both an ethnic name used to describe a "Frank", later to be known as a Frenchman, and a personal name of the 5th century a.d., which means "a free man". In the latter days of the Roman Empire, the Romans were permanently at war with the Franks, so it may be that the name was used as a derogatory term by the Romans, for somebody who claimed to be a free man. Be that as it may, the later surname, which dated from the 12th century, became hugely popular world wide, there being over two hundred spellings! These range from the relatively obvious English spelling of Francis, the French Francois and Frances, the Spanish and the Italian Francisco and Francie.However when we come to diminutives the etymology is less easy to follow with examples such as the Iberian Pacheco, Pachon and Pachu (Spain & Portugal), the almost as exrtaordinary Italian diminutives of Cicco, Giotto, and Sciuscietta, the nickname forms of Scotti, Ciccolini and Zecchi, and patronymics such as Francesconi (Italy), Franssen (Germany), Franson (England), and the Polish Franciskiewicz . The popularity of "Franciscus" it is said, was due in large measure to the fame of St. Francis of Assisi (1187 - 1226), however the name was also associated with the Knight Templars (Crusaders) of the 12th century. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Hugo Francus, which was dated 1135, in the register of Oseney Abbey, Oxfordshire, England,during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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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