Porterfield Coat of Arms / Porterfield Family Crest
'In several monasteries, a portion of land was appropriated to the Porter'. At Paisley this office and land seems to have got into the hands of laymen, and to have become hereditary. The descendants of 'John the Porter', inheriting the 'porterfield' naturally took the surname of their office, until territorial surnames came into fashion, when they lengthened it into Robertus PORTERFIELD (the founder of the family in about 1460). The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles.
Later instances of the name include The Rev. John PORTERFIELD, who held five churches at Strathendrick, in addition to the vicarage, during the latter half of the sixteenth century. Colin PORTFIELD, was the burgess of Aberdeen in 1549. The name is also spelt PORTARFELD, POTERFFIELD and POTERFEILD. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants. Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed. 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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