An English family of this name NOBLE settled in East Lothian as subvassals of the family of de Vallibus at the end of the 12th century. William NOBILIS held part of the lands of Garmilton under William de Vallibus. He was succeeded by his son Randulph who confirmed his father's grants. Radulphus NOBILIS witnessed a grant to the Hospital of Soltre circa. 1198. John NOBIL appears as a religious of Neubotle in 1398, and Vilyam NOBILE was chamberlain and procurator of the abbot of Arbroath at Inverness in 1464, and the NOBLES of that town may be descended from him. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. Later instances of the name include Alexander and John NOBILL, who was recorded in Inverness in 1497, and William NOBILL was a tenant of Culcowe, Ardmanoch in 1504. A family of the name held land in Dumbartonshire in the 17th century. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries.
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