SURNAMES as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. The surname of DALTON was derived from d'Alton, a name of Norman origin brought by settlers who went to Ireland at the beginning of the 13th century in the wake of the Anglo-Norman invasion. They acquired lands, first in County Meath and then in County Westmeath. The name is still found in Leinster, but is numerous in Munster and comparatively uncommon in the other provinces. The inland Leinster county of Westmeath was created late in the reign of King Henry VII by hiving off the western part of Meath. County Westmeath is thus bounded on the east by County Meath; its southern boundary is with County Offaly. On the north Westmeath is bounded by the counties of Meath, Cavan and Longford, and on the west by County Longford and County Roscommon. There was scarcely any commercial enterprise in the county a hundred years ago save for the sale of agricultural produce, and at Mullingar, two tanneries and a brewery and malting establishment.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour
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