The surname of COTTON was of the locational group of surnames 'of Cotton' parishes in the diocese of York and Southwell. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Habitation names are derived from names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named places, which include rivers, houses with signs on them, regions, or whole counties. The original bearer of the name who stayed in his area might be known by the name of his farm, or the locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of that county or the region from which he originated. Early records of the name mention John de Cotum who was documented in the year 1273 in the County of Northumberland and a Gilbert de Coteham, was recorded in the County of Cambridge, ibid. Edward Cotten appears in York in the year 1379. 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. Later instances of the name include Richard de Cotten of Overstanden, County Lancashire who was listed in the Wills at Chester in the year 1621, and Edward Wallgrave married Elizabeth Cottun, St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1667. The name is also spelt COTTUN and COTTEN. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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