SURNAMES as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. 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. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. The surname of NYE was a locational name 'atten-ey' from residence at or near a small inlet. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name is also spelt NYES, NYGH and NYGHES.Early records of the name mention Thomas atte Nye, 1273 County Somerset. Lucia de Rodeneye was recorded during the reign of Edward II (1307-1327). James Nygh married Isabel Hilliard at Kensington Parish Church, London in 1613.Philyp Nye, minister of St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1672. Rupert Nye, doctor of physick was documented in the same year. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
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