The surname of DELVES was derived from the Old English word 'DELVERE' an excavator, a digger a quarrier. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state, as is the case here. Early records of the name mention John le Delver, County Somerset, during the reign of Edward I (1272-1307). Richard de la Delphe, was recorded in the year 1295 in the County of Sussex. Thomas Delves of Nantwich, County Chester, was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1649. John Ridealgh, of the Delves of Lancashire (Yeoman) was recorded in 1566. In 1066 Duke William of Normandy conquered England. He was crowned King, and most of the lands of the English nobility were soon granted to his followers. Domesday Book was compiled 20 years later. The Saxon Chronicle records that in 1085 'at Gloucester at midwinter, the King had deep speech with his counsellors, and sent men all over England to each shire to find out, what or how much each landowner held in land and livestock, and what it was worth. The returns were brought to him'. William was thorough. One of his Counsellors reports that he also sent a second set of Commissioners 'to shires they did not know and where they were themselves unknown, to check their predecessors' survey, and report culprits to the King'. The information was collected at Winchester, corrected, abridged, and copied by one single writer into a single volume. Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex were copied, by several writers into a second volume. The whole undertaking was completed at speed, in less than 12 months.The name is also spelt as Delf and Delph.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in County Stafford.
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