There are many indicators that the name Picciotto may be of Jewish origin, emanating from the Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal.
When the Romans conquered the Jewish nation in 70 CE, much of the Jewish population was sent into exile throughout the Roman Empire. Many were sent to the Iberian Peninsula. The approximately 750,000 Jews living in Spain in the year 1492 were banished from the country by royal decree of Ferdinand and Isabella. The Jews of Portugal, were banished several years later. Reprieve from the banishment decrees was promised to those Jews who converted to Catholicism. Though some converted by choice, most of these New-Christian converts were called CONVERSOS or MARRANOS (a derogatory term for converts meaning pigs in Spanish), ANUSIM (meaning "coerced ones" in Hebrew) and CRYPTO-JEWS, as they secretly continued to practice the tenets of the Jewish faith.Our research has found that the family name Picciotto is cited with respect to Jews & Crypto-Jews in at least 5 bibliographical, documentary, or electronic references:
Bevis Marks is the Sephardic synagogue in London. It is over 300 years old and is the oldest still in use in Britain.The Spanish and Portuguese Jews' Congregation of London has published several volumes of its records: they can be found in libraries such as the Cambridge University Library or the London Metropolitan Archive
In this work Dan Rottenberg shows how to do a successful search for probing the memories of living relatives, by examining marriage licenses, gravestones, ship passenger lists, naturalization records, birth and death certificates, and other public documents, and by looking for clues in family traditions and customs. Supplementing the "how to" instructions is a guide to some 8,000 Jewish family names, giving the origins of the names, sources of information about each family, and the names of related families whose histories have been recorded. Other features included a country-by-country guide to tracing Jewish ancestors abroad, a list of Jewish family history books, and a guide to researching genealogy.
This work explores why the Portuguese Jews of northern Europe never established a solid sense of belonging to the wider Sephardi diaspora. It explores how, historically, the Conversos lost the consciousness of being “Sephardi” in the generations after the expulsion from Spain and the mass baptism of Portugal’s Jews in 1497. To be sure, once the Portuguese ex-Conversos organized in Jewish communities, their leaders made efforts to reconnect with the wider Sephardi world, and these efforts had serious symbolic and strategic value. But the Portuguese Jews’ rootedness in the Converso experience meant that their core sense of collective self remained distinct. Contributing factors to their enduring sense of distinctness were these aspects of Converso experience: the absorption of Catholic notions of piety; the “de-rabbinization” of crypto-Jewish belief; and the difficulty for many Conversos of maintaining any stable set of traditional beliefs. The outward image their leaders sought to cultivate may have been one of Sephardi traditionalism, but, at an emotional level, members of these communities continued to regard themselves as members of the “nação”—a term that evoked the Converso past.
ETSI (a Paris-based, bilingual French-English periodical) is devoted exclusively to Sephardic genealogy and is published by the Sephardi Genealogical and Historical Society (SGHS). It was founded by Dr. Philip Abensur, and his professional genealogist wife, Laurence Abensur-Hazan. ETSI's worldwide base of authors publish articles identifying a broad spectrum of archival material of importance to the Sephardic genealogist. A useful feature of ETSI is the listing, on the back cover, of all Sephardic family names, and places of origin, cited in the articles contained in each issue
Around the 12th century, surnames started to become common in Iberia. In Spain, where Arab-Jewish influence was significant, these new names retained their old original structure, so that many of the Jewish surnames were of Hebrew derivation. Others were directly related to geographical locations and were acquired due to the forced wanderings caused by exile and persecution. Other family names were a result of conversion, when the family accepted the name of their Christian sponsor. In many cases, the Portuguese Jews bear surnames of pure Iberian/Christian origin. Many names have been changed in the course of migration from country to country. In yet other cases "aliases", or totally new names, were adopted due to fear of persecution by the Inquisition.
The following website is relevant to the surname Picciotto: