The surname CLIFTON was a locational name ' of Clifton ' places in Carlisle, Ely and Gloucestershire. The name was derived from the Old English word CLIF, and literally meant the dweller at the rocks or beside the steep descent, or near the bank of the river. In the middle ages it was customary for a man to take his name from where he lived or held land. This name would identify his whole family, and follow them wherever they moved. Early records of the name mention SCLIVE (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. The name was documented as ILRCLIF (without surname) in the year 1130. Gilbert de Clifton, 1273 County Gloucester. Johannes de Clyfton, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Buried. Elizabeth Clifton at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1586. Baptised. Henry Clifton at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1624. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but they were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became general practice for all people. This surname is particularly associated with the manors of Huxley and Styche. Stephen de Cliffe recorded in 1189 is an early ancestor. In about 1750 George Clive settled in Birmingham, and was the ancestors of a prolific family of gunmakers. 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.
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