In Ireland this name is usually of English origin, taken by settlers in the 17th century. The name was derived from the Old French word FISCERE - an occupational name - one who obtained his living by the catching and selling of fish. 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. Early records of the name mention Richard le Fischer of the County of Essex in 1263. Ibota Fischher was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Thomas Fyschiar was one of the bailies of Edinburgh in 1603. When the sparse Irish population began to increase it became necessary to broaden the base of personal identification by moving from single names to a more definite nomenclature. The prefix MAC was given to the father's christian name, or O to that of a grandfather or even earlier ancestor. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. This name was occasionally selected because of its associations with the Hebrew given name of YONA or JONAH,, because Jonah in the book of the Bible that bears his name, was swallowed up by 'a Great Fish' and blessed by his father Jacob, with the words 'Let them grow into a multitude'.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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