The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burke's General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in Bath, County Somerset. Granted to Edmund PONTIFEX Esq. This ancient surname of PONTIFEX was a name which was applied to a member of the clergy, a man of the cloth 'the pontiff'. The male member of a religious order or monastery was an important person in Medieval Europe. It designated the members of the four mendicant orders, which became prominent in the 13th century, the Dominicans, Franciscans, Carmelites and Augustinians. They lived among their fellowmen travelling and preaching throughout the world. The villagers appreciated their courage and service and welcomed them. Some of the members were lay brothers or 'conversi' who lived according to a rule, but were not so strict as the monks or canons. They were illiterate, engaged mainly in manual work, and had their own living quarters. Jews would sometimes convert to Christianity and in 1154 there was a school in Bristol, England for converts. During the 13th century King Henry III founded the House of Converts in Chancery lane, London, as a home for Jews who had abandoned their faith. Early records of the name include Adam PONTIF, who was recorded in County Norfolk in the year 1273, and Richard Pontif was recorded in County York in the same year. 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. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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