The surname of POPJAY was derived from the Old French 'papegay' a nickname for one who was the winner in sports, one who would have excelled at the medieval sport of tilting or shooting at a wooden parrot on a pole. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. Early records of the name mention Robert Papejay, 1321 County Suffolk. Robert Papyngeye, 1371 County Norfolk. Richard Popynjay was the surveyor of the works at Portsmouth. Listed in Official State Papers, July 8th 1568.
The name was in Scotland at an early date, and the Pepdies of Dunglass were an old border family. Stephen Papedi witnessed a charter in 1166, and Eustachius Padedi witnessed a grant of land in Haddington to the Abbey of Dunfermline by William the Lion. Nichola Pepdie was married in the 14th century to Sir Thomas Home, grandfather of Sir Alexander Home, who founded in 1403, the Collegiate College of Dunglass.
Most of the European surnames 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.
The name was also a nickname which would have been acquired by a talkative person, or by someone who habitually dressed in bright colours.
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