Of all the surnames which derive from the saints and disciples of the Christian church, 'Petros' meaning 'The rock' has provided the world with the greatest number of both given names and the later medieval surnames. In their different spellings ranging from Peter, Pieter, and Pierre, to patronymics Peterson, Peters, Peres, Perez, Peers, and even the Armenian Bedrosian, to diminutives such as Poschel, Piotrek, Petrenko, and Pietrusska, and locational names such as Petrovsky or Petrowsky of Poland, there are estimated to be over seven hundred spellings. At least one form appears as a popular surname in every European country. The original name was Greek, and Christ chose Peter to be 'the rock' on which the church was to be founded. The name became very popular in Europe following the twelve 'crusades' of the early medieval period, when various kings sought to free the Holy Land. Thereafter the name spread to every country, replacing the original 'local' names. Early examples of the surname recording taken from authentic registers in both Europe and the Americas include Luke Petre of London, England, in 1282, William Petres of Somerset, England, in 1327, Andres Guillen Perez, at Aguaron, Zaragoza, Spain, on December 7th 1565, Martina Josepha Perez, of Santa Catarina, Mexico, on December 23rd 1775, and Antonio Diego Peres, who married Maria Ysabel Yorba, at San Gabriel, Los Angeles, on January 4th 1864. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Peter, which was dated 1195, in the pipe rolls of the county of Hertford, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, known as 'Lion-heart', 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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