This French and Italian surname of ARGO was originally rendered in the Latin form ARGENTUM. This was probably most commonly a nickname for someone with silvery grey hair, but it may also have been originally an occupational name for a worker in the metal. It could also have meant one who lived near a silver mine. There are several French towns and villages named with this word, because silver was mined there. It was also a locational name 'of Argentan' a town in south Normandy. David de Argentomago was a tenant in chief under the Conqueror in 1066, in counties Bedford and Cambridge in England. His descendants were ennobled as Barons Argentine. Many of the early names recorded in medieval documents denote noble families but many also indicate migration from the continent during, and in the wake of, the Norman invasion of 1066. There was a constant stream of merchants, workmen and others arriving in England during this time. In 1086 the Record of Great Inquisition of lands of England, their extent, value, ownership and liabilities was made by order of William The Conqueror. It is known as the Domesday Book. Early records also mention Richard de Argentein, County Hereford, 1273. Giles de Argentein, 1281, County Norfolk. John Argentein, registered at Oxford University on the 20th October, 1449. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God, however much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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