The surname of HUNT was derived from the Old English HUNTIAN - a hunter, a huntsman. 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. The name is found in Ireland in all four provinces, but mostly in Connacht, where the name is used by translation as Feighney, Feighry and Fey. Early records of the name mention Humphrey le HUNT of the County of Essex in 1203. Ralph HUNTE of the County of Yorkshire in 1219. Gilbert le HUNT of County Yorkshire in 1302. Aymon HUNTER was bailie of the burgh of Culan in 1328. Thomas HUNTER was a tenant of the Douglas in the parish of Mortan in 1376. Robert le HUNTE of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. 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. An eminent member of the name was William HUNTER (1718-83) the Scottish anatomist and obstetrician, born in Calderwood, East Kilbride. He studied divinity at Glasgow University, bit eventually took up medicine. In 1764 he was appointed physician-extraordiary to Queen Charlotte Sophia. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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