Recorded in over one hundred spellings forms ranging from Joseph and Jessop (English), Jose (Spanish & Portugese), Josef (German), Jozef (Polish), and Joszef (Hungarian), this surname may be described as European, but of ancient Hebrew origins. It is one of large group of 'given' names from the Holy Land which later became surnames. These include Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and John, as examples, which were initially introduced into Europe in about the 11th century, and mainly by the Knight Templars, otherwise known as 'crusaders' returning from the Holy Land. As such they were always initially Christian surnames. In addition from about the mid 13th century, members of the Jewish faith were banned or persecuted in many pasrts of Europe, and they played little or no part in the development of surnames. This, as a hereditary system was fully in place by the year 1400. The given name as 'Joseph' is believed to translate as 'god may add to' or similar, although the precise meaning in the ancient times may have been quite different. It was popular in England from Norman times. Probably the first surname recording in the world may be that of Henry Joseph. This was dated 1191, in the pipe rolls of the county of Hampshire, England, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The Lionheart', 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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