Originally Latinized as Jacomus, and now recorded in over two hundred spellings in Italy alone, this surname has a very confused origin. Taking samples of the recorded Italian spellings first. These include such diverse forms as Giacomelli, Cominetto and Motti, to Iacomini, Mucci, and Mazella. Like the personal name and subsequent surname Jacob, Jacomus has its origins in the Hebrew given name "Yaakov", a name interpreted as coming from the word "akev", meaning a heel, but has also been interpreted as "he who supplanted". Both of these meanings are influenced by the biblical story of Esau and his younger twin brother Jacob. Jacob is said to have been born holding on to Esau's heel, and took advantage of Esau's hunger to persuade him to part with his birthright "for a mess of pottage". For a name with such indistinct origins, it has proved to be a great success story. The personal name was widely used throughout Europe from the earliest times, whilst the hereditary surname is one of the first ever recorded anywhere in the world. Examples include Stefano Mazzei of Sambuci, Roma, on August 20th 1674, Lucietto Masseto, at Villafora, Torino, on Fbruary 6th 1698, and finally Guiseppe Maria Mazella, at Faetto, Torino, on May 26th 1818. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is shown to be that of Walter James, which was dated 1187, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Gloucestershire, England.
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