Recorded in many spellings including Pelisse, Pelise, Pellisier, Pelissie, and Pelicier (French), Pellicer, Pelliser, and Pellise (Catalonian), Pellissi, Pellicci, Pelosi, Pellossi, and Pellizoni (Italian), Pilcher (English) and many others, this is an occupational surname. It is ultimately of Roman origins from the Latin word 'pellicia' meaning a skin, and it described a maker of pelisses. These were a fur or leather garment, worn as a sort of jacket, and which in its military form was designed to be light armour, which could prevent minor wounds. Occupational surnames perhaps not surprisingly, were amongst the earliest to be created from about the 12th century. However in France many early registers and records were lost in 1792, making research very difficult. They were deliberately destroyed by the Revolutionaries, who claimed that they were instruments of the Secret Police of the monarch. In addition they also banned and closed all churches, and these were only reopened by Emperor Napoleon a decade later. Such early examples as we have been able to find include Antone Pelissier at Badonviller, departement of Meurthe-et- Moselle, on September 19th 1770, and Jean Claud Pellisieo, at Azerailles, also coincidentally Meurthe-et-Moselle, on January21st 1794.
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