The surname of BOOKS is of Scottish origin, early references to the name include Boig and Boak. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. Early records of the name mention Andrew Boag who witnessed a charter of land in the year 1550. Thomas Boak was a merchant burgess of Stirling in the year 1610. The name was common in Edinburgh in the 17th century as Boog and Boik. William Boick was martyred for his religious beliefs in Glasgow in 1683 and William Bouok, schoolmaster at Lundy, was suspended from office 'for his scandal in acting a comedie wherein he made a mock of religious duties and ordinances'. Alexander Boak was a tanner in Edinburgh in 1786. Surnames before the Norman Conquest of 1066 were rare in England having been brought by the Normans when William the Conqueror invaded the shores. The practice spread to Scotland and Ireland by the 12th century, and in Wales they appeared as late as the 16th century. Most surnames can be traced to one of four sources, locational, from the occupation of the original bearer, nicknames or simply font names based on the first name of the parent being given as the second name to their child. 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.