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Gleave Coat of Arms / Gleave Family Crest

Gleave Coat of Arms / Gleave Family Crest

The surname of GLEAVE was derived from the Old French GLAIVE or GLEIVE, and the Middle English GLEYVE, GLEVE - meaning 'lance', a name for a spearman or for a winner in a race in which the lance set up as a winning post was given as a prize. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066 and GLAUE (without surnames) was listed as a tenant in chief in the Domesday Book of 1086. 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. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. Early records of the name mention William Glaiue, of the County of Norfolk in 1202. William Gleue of the County of Suffolk in 1283. Thomas Gleive was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. 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.


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last updated on: April 3rd, 2017

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