This surname ARMSTEAD was of the locational group of surnames meaning one 'of Armitag' in County Staffordshire. The origin of the name was probably from the donation of land for 'building' by Richard de Rihill, sometime between 1211 and 1240 to the Knights Templars, an order instituted in 1118 and introduced into Yorkshire in 1152. The name meant 'the dweller at the Hermitage'. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as "de", "atte", "by" or "in". The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Early records of the name mention Richard de Ermitage, 1259, County Chester, and Hugh del Herytage was recorded in the year 1296 in Warwickshire. Thomas Armitage appears in County Lancashire in 1300, and Willelmus del Ermytache et Agnes ux ejus was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. A later instance of the name mention Joseph Armitage who married Mary Kedon at St, Dionis Backchurch, London in 1784. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. Records show that most, if not all of the bearers of the surname can be traced back to a family living at Hermitage Bridge in Almondbury, near Huddersfield in the thirteenth century. The name is still common in Yorkshire. It was first taken to North America by Enoch Armitage (born in 1677) of Wooldale, Yorkshire; other members of the family followed. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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