The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burke's General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. This ancient English surname of GOTHAM was a locational name meaning 'one who came from GOTHAM' a place in County Nottingham. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form GATHAM, literally meaning the place where goats were kept. The earliest of the place-name on record was GATHAM, which was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. Later instances of the name include GATAHAM, which was recorded in Nottingham in the year 1152, and GOTHAM was documented in the year 1291.
In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84. The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnanimity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America.
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