An English family of this name settled in East Lothian as subvassels of the family of de Vallibus at the end of the 12th century. The name is also spelt NOBB, NOBLE, NOBILE, NOBELS, NOBBLET, NOBLOT and LENOBLE. 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. William Nobilis held part of the lands of Garmilton under William de Vallibus before 1150. Radulphus Nobilis witnessed a grant to the Hospital of Soltre in 1198. Patrick Noble had a remission for his share in holding Dumbarton Castle against the King in 1489. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people.
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