The surname of ABEE was originally derived from the Old French word ABED, meaning a priest, a member of the clergy. It was perhaps a nickname for a sanctimonious person, or an occupational name for someone employed in the household of a priest. The Scottish cognate ABBIE, in at least one case was an occupational name, borne by a family who provided hereditary lay abbots. The name has numerous variant spellings which include ABBE, LABBEY, LABEZ, ABBATE, LABBA, ABADE and ABOTT, to name but a few. During the 17th century surnames were brought to Britain, North America and southern Africa by French Huguenot exiles. The Huguenots were French Protestants, and in 1572 large numbers of them were massacred in Paris on the orders of Queen Catherine de'Medici. Many of the survivors sought refuge in England and elsewhere. Although the Edict of Nantes (1598) officially guaranteed religious toleration, persecution continued, and the Edict was revoked by Louis XIV in 1685. It was then the trickle of emigration became a flood. Many migrated to England, while others joined groups of Dutch Protestants settling around the Cape of Good Hope. Others sailed across the Atlantic to establish themselves in North America. Early records of the name mention Alfwoldus Abot, 1117, County Norfolk. Walter Abbott was recorded in the year 1200, in the City of London. Henry Abbod, of the County of Oxford was documented in the year 1273. Marageta Abbot of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Edward Sanders and Ann Abbitt were married at St. Antholin, London in 1720. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter, which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did.
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