Recorded in over two hundred spellings, this is in Northern Europe a Crusader name of Hebrew origins. Recorded as Jacob, Jacobb, Jacobbe (English) Jakob, Jakobb, Japp (German), Giacobbo, Giacppo, Iacobo (Italian) Kobus (Dutch) Jakubski, Kubas (Polish) and many many more, it originates from the ancient "Yaakov" meaning "following-after". In the bible Yaakov was the name of the twin brother of Esau, who took advantage of the latter's impetuousness to persuade him to part with his birthright "for a mess of potage". Perhaps surprisingly it was not originally a Jewish surname. Like most Hebrew and biblical names, it enjoyed a great burst of popularity in the 12th century during the time of the great Crusades to free the Holy Land from the Sarcens. All were unsuccessful, but the returning soldiers and pilgrims made it a fashion to call their children by names associated with the early days of the Christian church. The earliest examples of surname recordings are usually to be found in England, the first country to adopt both hereditary surnames, and to register them. William Jacob was recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1273, whilst in 1361 Hans Jacob was recorded in the charters of Wernsbach, and in 1391 Wigand Japp of Ockstadt, both Germany. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Agnes Jacobes. This was in the register of the abbey of Ramsey, Huntingdon, in the year 1244. Over the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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