This surname PITHER is of the relationship group of surnames, a baptismal name 'the son of Peter'. The name is also spelt PITHE, PITH, PETHE and PETHER. Early records of the name mention Thomas PITHER, who was recorded in the year 1273 in County Gloucestershire and Edward PITHIE of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The acquisition of surnames in Europe and England, during the last eight hundred years has been affected by many factors, including social class and social structure, naming practices in cultures and traditions. On the whole the richer and more powerful classes tended to acquire surnames earlier than the working class or the poor, while surnames were quicker to catch on in urban areas than in more sparsely populated rural areas. The bulk of surnames in England were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in place names into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. 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. Later instances of the name include John PETHER, who registered at Oxford University in the year of 1526 and Thomas PETHER and Arabella Fancourt were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1778.
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