The surname of CHISHOLM is an old Border name from the barony of Chisholm in the parish of Roberton, Roxburghshire. The name moved north through Scotland during the 14th Century, the Highland Chisholms being distinguished from the Lowland Chisholms as the Chisholms of Strathglass. Early records mention John de Chesehelme, Roxburghshire 1254. John de Chesolm, was recorded in Berwickshire in 1296. Robert de Chesholme was sheriff of Inverness in 1359. John de Sheshelm was the burgess of Aberdeen in the year 1439, and three members of the family of Chisolm of Cromlix held the bishopric of Dunblane in the 16th century. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. The associated arms are to be found in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms 1884.
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