The surname of FERNE was a locational name 'the dweller among the ferns'. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention John de la Fernem 1275 County Surrey. Henry atte Verne, was documented in the year 1300 in the County of Sussex. Johannes de Fearne of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Edward Ferne 1379, ibid. 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. There was also a place so called in Rossshire, Scotland and early instances there include Sir Andrew Ferne who was one of the chaplains of the cathedral church of Dornoch in 1512. John Fern was the burgess of Perth in 1432, and Robert de Fearn held land in Dundee in 1458. George Ferne was the archdeacon of Dunkeld in 1488. Sir Robert Ferne was curate of Golspie in 1546 and curate of Kylmalie in the same year. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.
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