Christopher Family Crest / Christopher Coat of Arms
CHRISTOPHER was a baptismal name 'the son of Cristopher' an ancient and popular font name which has been in use since the 12th century. This name was from the medieval given name which ostensibly means 'Bearer of Christ'. This was borne by a rather obscure 3rd century martyred saint. His name was relatively common among early Christians, who desired to bear Christ metaphorically with them in their daily lives, but it was later explained by a wholly legendary story in which he carried the infant Christ across a ford, and so became the patron saint of travellers. In this guise he was enormously popular in the Middle Ages, and many Inns providing accommodation for travellers were named with this sign; in some instances the surname may have derived originally from the residence at, or association with an inn. Early records of the name mention Cristoforus et uxor ejus of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name mention Christopher Fell who married Jenet Casson at St. Mary, Ulverston in 1545. Nicholas Christoferson of Dunerdall, Lancashire, was listed in the Wills at Richmond in 1598. Francis Christoferns of Coulton was listed in the Wills in 1664.
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according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans.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 name is also spelt Christopherson and Christofferson. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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