The surname of LAITHWAITE was of the locational group of surnames meaning one 'of Lewthaite' a spot in County Cumberland and of a place so called in Furness, County Lancashire. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and denoted where he actually lived. William Bisbrowne of Leathwaite, who was listed in the Lancashire Wills at Ricmond, appears in the year 1457. The use of fixed surnames or descriptive names appears to have commenced in France about the year 1000, and such names were introduced into Scotland through the Normans a little over one hundred years later, although the custom of using them was by no means common for many years afterwards. During the reign of Malcolm Ceannmor (1057-1093) the latter directed his chief subjects, after the custom of other nations, to adopt surnames from their territorial possessions, and there created 'The first erlis that euir was in Scotland'. 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. Other records of the name mention John Greene and Agnes Lewteth, who were married at St, Mary, Ulverstan in 1546. James Lewthwaite of Bardsey, parish of Urswick, Lancashire, was listed in the Wills at Richmond in 1650. John Lewthwaite married Mary Tweedie at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1792. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name.
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