The surname of FRANCIS was derived from the Old French 'franceis' a Frenchman. The name was brought to England with the Conqueror in 1066. The name was very familiar to 13th and 14th century documents. St. Francis of Assissi (1181-1226) was the Italian religious founder of the Franciscan Order, born in Assisi, the son of a wealthy merchant. He was remarkable for his happiness and love of life, and although he joined a military expedition, he was halted by a dream and returned to devote himself to the care of the poor and sick. He was canonized by Pope Gregory IX in 1228, and in 1980 was designated patron saint of ecology. Early records of the name mention Robertus filius Franceus, 1207 Sussex. Gilbert de Frauncis, County Cambridge, ibid. Francais de Irtona was recorded in the year 1230 in the county of Yorkshire. Adam Fraunceys of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. On the evening of May 13th, 1787 at 3.am. The first Fleet left for Australia with the convicts. They were mostly petty criminals, forced to crime by a pitiful necessity. William Francis stole a book, and was transported for seven years. The name has many variant spellings which include Frances, Fraunces and Francies. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory.
Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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