CHURCH was a locational name 'the dweller at the church' from residence near the church porch or gate. It could have also meant one who worked at the church, the original bearer of the name may have been employed to look after the churchyard or enclosure. Occupational surnames refer directly to the particular trade or occupation followed by the first bearer of the name. These occupations can be divided into classes such as agricultural, manufacturing, retailing and so on. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today. Smiths, millers and wrights were indeed specialists, but even they would normally have their own smallholdings for growing crops and keeping a few animals. Others were simply designated as the servant of some person of a higher social status, as a maid or parson. Early records of the name mention John atte Churche who was recorded in the year 1273 in the County of Somerset and
Robert atte Chyrche was documented in County Norfolk in the year 1273. John Atte-cherc was the rector of Metton, County Norfolk, in the year 1338. Later instances of the name include Elizabeth Church who was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1595 and William Bundock and Katherine Church, were married in London in the year 1611.
During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
Orders over $85 qualify for Free Shipping within the U.S. (Use coupon code: FREESHIP).