Recorded in many and varied forms including apparently Rosso, Rouso, Russo, Riccio, Ricciotto, Ricciuto, Rizzo, Riozzi, Rizzitiello, Rezzo, Rezzuto, Rizzini, and others, this is an Italian surname. It is not surprisingly of Roman origins. It derives from a number of possible sources all in some way associated with hair or complexion. These include 'rous' meaning red or dark, as well as 'riccio' meaning hedgehog. In the latter case it is a transferred meaning for somebody with red wavy or spiky hair!.The name may originally have been ethnic for a German, since as the Huns and the Goths, they conquered most of Italy in the year after the fall of the empire in 410 a.d. The name is also recorded in Spain as Ros and Rojo, Spain and Portugal also being conquered by the 'red heads' in the 5th century a.d. Unusually for Italy where early registers are either non existent or generally poor, there are some good examples of early medieval recordings. These include Faustina Russo, christened at Lipari, Messina, on October 10th 1582, and Caterina Riccio, a witness at Prizzi, Palermo, on December 17th 1593. The coat of arms has the distinctive blazon of a knight in armour holding in one hand a heart and in the other a shield, suggesting that he will defend his family to the end. Eustachio Russo, which was dated April 3rd 1548, a witness at Adelphia, Bari, Italy, during the reign of Pope Paul 111, reigned from 1534 to 1549. 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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