The surname of GRIFFIN was a baptismal name 'the son of Griffin or Griffith ' and while some Griffin families in Ireland may descend from settlers of that name who came over from Wales, a great majority will come from ancient Irish lineage, being descendants of septs named O'Griobtha. One of these had its sept centre at Ballygriffin in Glanarought Barony, County Kerry. Griffin families are still numerous in County Kerry and in the adjacent county of Limerick. Early records of the name mention Tuder filius Griffini, during the time of Edward I (1272-1307). John Gryffyn was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. An eminent member of the name was Gerald Griffin (1803-1840) the Irish novelist, born in Limerick. He wrote for local journals and went to London in 1823 to make a career in literature. He failed as a dramatist, but was successful with a collection of short stories of southern Irish life like 'Holland Tide' (1826) and 'The Tales of the Munster Festivals'. In 1838, he burned his manuscripts and entered a monastry. 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. 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.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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