The surname of NAPTON was of the locational group of surnames meaning one who came from Knapton, the name of three places so called from the Old English CNAPA (boy, servant) and TUN (settlement enclosure). There is a township in the parish of Acomb in the West Riding of Yorkshire, a township in the parish of Wintringham in the East Riding of Yorkshire, and a parish in County Norfolk, three miles from North Walsham, from where the original bearer of the name may have come. The names of habitation, which are the largest group, usually denoted where the original bearer of the name held and perhaps owned his land. These local surnames derive (with a few occasional exceptions) from English, Scottish or French places, and were originally preceded by a preposition such as 'atte' or 'bye'. The earliest local surnames of French origin are chiefly from Normandy, particularly from the departments of Calvados, Eure, Seine-Inferieure and La Manche, although some Frenchmen, arriving in England early acquired surnames from English places. Local names may derive from the manor held, the place of residence, and occasionally from a sign like an Inn or Tavern, or a particularly unusual shape of rock, hill, tree, stream or river. Early records of the name mention Estilda de Knapeton, who appears in County Norfolk in the year 1273, and Thomas de Cnapeton of Suffolk was recorded in the same year. Elisabet de Knapton of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Albinus Knapton of Wiltshire, registered at Oxford University in 1586. Two marriages include John Nickelson and Mary Knapton, who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1759, and Bartholomew Napton and Susanna Hine were married at Oxford (No church given) in 1790.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. 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.
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