The surname of TENNANT was derived from the Old French word 'tenant' a holder or possessor of lands. The name was probably brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1086. Early records of the name mention Willelmus Tenaunt, of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Philip Swadlowe and Elizabeth Tennant were married at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in the year 1563. Silvester Tenante registered at Oxford University in the year 1564. Robert Tenent, was documented in the year 1550 in Glasgow. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that 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. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of arms in 1884.
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