This surname of DESOUZA was a Portugese and Italian habitation name from any of various minor places so called. The placename is of uncertain origin; it was probably applied originally to a salt-marsh, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form SALSA. The name is also spelt SOUSA and SOUZA. As the agricultural depression of southern Italy worsened towards the end of the 19th century, people began to escape to the New World. The exodus started in earnest in 1887 with Brazil and other parts of Latin America being the original destinations. By 1893, the economy had improved in the United States and people headed there from Italy in greater and greater numbers. In 1898 there were more Italian immigrants to the USA than from any other country. In the post war era, more than a quarter of Italians left the country for a new life. They joined a flood of immigrants to America which was averaging a million a year in the pre war years. The origins of Italian surnames are not clear, and much work remains to be done on medieval Italian records. It seems that fixed bynames, in some cases hereditary, were in use in the Venetian Republic by the end of the 10th century. The typical Italian surname endings are 'i' and 'o', the former being characteristic of northern Italy. The singular form 'o' is more typical of southern Italy. John Philip SOUSA (1854-1932) was the American composer and bandmaster, born in Washington DC. His early training as a conductor was gained with theatre orchestras, and in 1880 he became conductor of the United States Marine Band. Portugese surnames share many of the features of Spanish surnames, in particular Arabic and Visigothic influence. A notable feature of Portugese surnames is the class of religious names referring to festivals of the church or attributes of the Virgin Mary. . The surname is also found as Sousa, Souza and D'Souza in the modern idiom, and is well recorded in Portuguese Church Registers, where it first appears in the early 15th Century.Other early examples include: the birth of Leonor Homem de Sousa at Funchal, in 1446, and the birth of her son, Joao Homem de Sousa, also at Funchal in 1476; Branca Sousa, who was born in the Azores Island Provinces, in 1512; Apolonia, daughter of Jeronimo and Maria de Sousa, christened at Canico Madeira, Funchal, on January 15th 1582; and the marriage of Andre de Souza to Mario Do Espirito-Sto at Santa Beatriz, Aqua de Pena, Funchal, on October 21st 1647 One respect in which Portugese names differ from those of the rest of the Iberian peninsular, is that some were adopted at a comparatively late date and honour saints who did not give rise to surnames in other languages. Portugese names typically have the ending 'eiro'. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Rietstaps Armorial General.
The House of Souza is one of the eldest and nobler houses of Portugal. Its origin starts with the Goth Kings and the name was first used in the 11th century, by Lord Egas Gomes de Souza, heir to the house and to several royal lineages. There are three main lineages of this noble house, but we shall only focus on the one represented to left (Souza of Arronches). The field of the shield is divided in four quarters (quarterly or party per cross) with the Royal Arms of Portugal in the first and fourth quarters, and the Ancient Arms of Souza, a quartet of silver crescents (Argent) over a field of red (Gules), in the second and third quarters. This grouping known as the Souza of Arronches (because of the title of Lords of Arronches), is still borne by many of the noble houses of Portugal, like the Dukes of Palmela. The Chief of the House of Souza today is the Duke of Lafões. Some say that there isn't a single noble man (or woman) in Portugal that does not have the blood of the Souzas.The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Garcia Homem de Sousa, which was dated 1420, christened at Funchal, Portugal, during the reign of King John 1 of Portugal, 1385 - 1433. 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.
The family motto (Better to break than to bend) is also very dear to me, and I have had more than one occasion in my life to bear the true meaning of that legend.