This French name of GUILLEN was introduced into England at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066, and within a very short period it became the most popular given name in England, mainly, no doubt in honour of the Conqueror himself. The given name has also enjoyed considerable popularity in Germany as Wilhelm, in France and in Spain as Guillermo. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood to have a second name and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. GUILLEN was a baptismal name 'the son of William' which was derived from the French GUILLAUME. For nearly eight centuries, William and John have raced for first place in popularity as a font name. The name dates to Robertus filius Willelmi, listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. John filius Willelmi of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. It was the name of four Kings of England, William I. (1066-1087), the Conqueror, and the Duke of Normandy. William II (1087-1100). William III (1650-1702), and William IV. (1765-1837). 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. A notable member of the name was William of Newburgh (1135-1200) the English chronicler, perhaps a native of Bridlington. He was a monk of Newburgh Priory (Coxwold), and his 'Historia Rerum Anglicarum' is one of the chief authorities for the reign of Henry II. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name.
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