Recorded in over a hundred spellings forms including the Italian forms of Franco, Franchi, Lafrancini, Lafranconi, Laffranconi, Lanfranchi, Lafrauchini etc., this is a patronymic surname. It derives from the pre 5th century Germanic personal name 'Franc', through the later spellings of Franco and Francesco. However spelt the meaning is the same. It is or was, an ethnic name for a person from the Frankish Empire. These people in the ancient period known as 'The Dark Ages', after the fall of the Roman Empire in 412 a.d., for two hundred years held most of Europe from Poland to Gibralter and Sicily. The name 'Franc' has the traditional meaning of 'free', but this is an oblique reference to the fact that only those of Frankish birth enjoyed the status of being 'free men'. Italian surnames are traditionally the most difficult of all European surnames to etymologically research. Joseph Fucilla's standard work on Italian surnames states that 'the subject is unusually complicated'. This is because until the 20th century the spellings were not 'fixed', and each generation added or removed its own diminutives, sometimes as a prefix and sometimes as a suffix, to the point where sometimes only one letter remained from the original spelling! Early examples of the name recording include Sibilia Lafrancini, marrried at Grondone-Solaro, Piacenza, on September 28th 1626, and Janina Lanfranchi, the daughter of Johannis Lanfranchi, born at Trabuchello, Bergamo, on October 21st 1640.
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