The surname of MINNETT was originally a baptismal name, from the medieval female given name MINNE. This seems to have been in origin a Germanic personal name from the Old High German MINNA, meaning love, but in the late middle ages it was also used as a short form of Willemina, a feminine version of William. The name was probably brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. 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. Early records of the name mention Peter Mignot, 1191, County Kent. Robert Mignot was documented in County Yorkshire in the year 1201. John Mynot, was recorded in the County of Somerset, in the year 1273. Nicholaus Minney of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax in the year 1379. Benjamin Minnitt and Mary Veale were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1749. Martin Manney and Margaret Minnett were married at the same church in 1770. 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.
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