The surname of PETERSON is a baptismal name - Son of Peter. This personal name has naturally been the parent of many forms and variations such as - Parkin, Perkin, Perkinson, Parkinson, Peterman. The name was brought to England from Scandinavia in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention Petrus listed in the 1086 Domesday Book. William Petres was documented in 1327 Somerset. John Peterson was recorded in the year 1375 in Lancashire. Edwin Petasen of Yorkshire was mentioned in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that is became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. The name was extremely popular throughout Christian Europe in the Middle Ages, as it had been bestowed by Christ as a byname on the apostle Simon bar Jonah, the brother of Andrew. The name was chosen for its symbolic significance, is a translation of the Aramaic 'kefa' meaning a rock. St. Peter is regarded as the foundling father of the Christian church, and in Christian Germany in the 14th century was the most frequent given name. In England the vernacular form of Piers was usual at the time when surnames were being assumed. 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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