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Keast Coat of Arms / Keast Family Crest

The surname of KEAST originated in Austria and had an early connection with Holland. Early settlers brought the name into Cornwall where it is a nickname for a portly man, derived from the Old Cornish word CEST (belly). The name was also used as a medieval personal name. The name was also given to a basket maker. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets 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. Cornish naming practices are unfortunately poorly documented for the Middle Ages, but present day Cornish surnames, somewhat surprisingly, do not follow the predominantly patronymic pattern of the other Celtic languages, including Welsh. This may be attributed to the greater influence of the English bureaucracy and English naming practices in Cornwall than in Wales at the time when surnames came into use. The majority of Cornish names are habitation names and others are derived from medieval given names. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.

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Last Updated: January 15th, 2021

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