The surname of HEATHMAN was derived from the Old English word 'heaomann' the man who dwelt on the heath, from residence nearby. The name is also spelt Hethman and Heath. It may also be a habitation name from any of the various places for example in Bedfordshire, Derbyshire, Hereford, and West Yorkshire, named with this word. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention John de la Hethman, 1248 County Essex. William atte Heth was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Robert del Hethman of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert Chambers and Helen Heath were married at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in the year 1577. Baptised. Fraunces Heath, St. James's, London in 1585. Local surnames, by far the largest group, derived from a place name where the man held land or from the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. These local surnames were originally preceded by a preposition such as 'de', 'atte', 'by' or 'in'. The names may derive from a manor held, from working in a religious dwelling or from literally living by a wood or marsh or by a stream. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage it would add to their status. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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