There are a number of Scottish and English surnames now numerous in Ulster most of which, though not sufficiently well established to be classed as 'principal names' in the so-called census of 1659, were already to be found in the province at that time. A few of them indeed occur transiently in medieval Irish records, and the name MATCHETT was one of these names, originally from England. The name is also found in the Orkney and Shetland islands, and was formerly used as a given name there; it has been supposed to derive from a Scandinavian form of Mathew, and means 'gracious gift of Jehovah'. It was an exceedingly popular font name during the 11th and 12th Centuries. This given name was of biblical origin, ultimately from the Hebrew male font name Matityahu, recorded in the Greek New Testament in the form Matthias. The name is also spelt MADGETT, MATCHET and MATCHITT. Early records of the name mention Willelmus MACHETT, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. 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. Later instances of the name include Francis Pickering who married Mary MATCHETT, St.Jame's, Clerkenwell, London in 1670. Richard Saunders married Mary MATCHET, St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1736. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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