This surname ATHA was of the locational group of surnames 'the dweller at the wood' from residence nearby. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. It was customary in the middle ages for a man and his family to take their name from the village where they lived, or from the land that they owned. It identified the whole family, and would follow them wherever they moved. The name was derived from the Old English word ATHOW, and early records of the name mention ATTA (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1066. ATHE (without surname) was documented in the year 1198, County Yorkshire, and Geoffrey Ate Wode appears in the year 1273 in County Huntingdonshire. John Atha of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. George Attwood and Sarah Laurence, were married at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in the year 1726. The name has many variant spellings which include Athey, Athy, and Ather. Following the Crusades in Europe from the 11th until the 13th century, a need was felt for a family name, in addition to the one that had been given at birth. This was recognized by those of noble birth, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. When the coast of England was invaded by William The Conqueror in the year 1066, the Normans brought with them a store of French personal names, which soon, more or less, entirely replaced the traditional more varied Old English personal names, at least among the upper and middle classes. A century of so later, given names of the principal saints of the Christian church began to be used. It is from these two types of given name that the majority of the English patronymic surnames are derived and used to this day.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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