The surname of TRACEY was a locational name 'of Traci-Boccage' in the arrondissment of Caen. The family settled in Barnstaple, County Devon, and came over to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Many of the early names recorded in medieval documents denote noble families but many also indicate migration from the continent during, and in the wake of, the Norman invasion of 1066. There was a constant stream of merchants, workman and others arriving in England during this time. In 1086 the Record of Great Inquisition of lands of England, their extent, value, ownership and liabilities was made by order of William The Conquerer. It is known as the Domesday book. Early records of the name mention Henry de Tracy, 1273 County Devon. Henry Tracy was documented in County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). William Tracey of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Robert Treacey appears in County Lancashire in 1400. Richard Tracy of County Gloucestershire, registered at Oxford University in 1597. Samuel Tracy, County Gloucestershire, 1601. ibid. 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 rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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