The surname of ROBERTS was a baptismal name 'the son of Rodbert' meaning fame-bright. This name was originally derived from the Germanic personal name, composed of the elements HROD and BERHT. The name was found occasionally in England before the Conquest, but in the main it was introduced into England by the Normans, and quickly became popular among all classes of society. Early records of the name mention Rodbertus (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Adam filius Roberti, was recorded in 1273 in the County of Oxford. Thomas filius Roberti of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is often assumed that men 'adopted' their surnames. Some certainly did, but the individual himself had no need for a label to distinguish him from his fellows. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each knight owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized. Monasteries drew up surveys and extents with details of tenants of all classes in their services. Any description which identified the man was satisfactory, his father's name, the name of his land, or a nickname known to be his. The upper classes mostly illiterate, were those with whom the officials were chiefly concerned and among them surnames first became numerous and hereditary. Frederick Sleigh Roberts, Ist Earl Roberts of Kandahar (1832-1914). English Field-Marshall; defeated the Afghans near Kabul and led the famous march from Kabul to Kandahar; commander in chief in South Africa. Another notable member of the family name was David Roberts (1796-1864) a Scottish painter, born in Edinburgh. He was a scene painter at Drury Lane, and attracted attention with pictures of Rouen and Amiens Cathedrals while he exhibited at the Royal Academy. 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. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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