The surname of WATKINS was a baptismal name 'the son of Walter', a name which was composed of the elements 'wald' (rule) and 'heri' (army). The name was introduced into England by the Normans, during the Invasion of 1066, in the forms Waltier and Wautier. Other spellings of the name include WARR, WATLING, WHATLING, WATTIS, WATSON, WHATKINS, WATKISS and GWATKINS. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. 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 draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Early records of the name mention Adam filius Walterkini, 1200 County Oxford. Thomas Watkyns was documented in the year 1273 in the County of Gloucestershire, and John Waterkyn appears in the year 1301 in London. Later instances of the name mention Edward Watkinson of County York, who registered at the University of Oxford in 1580. Henry Watkinson married Mary Clarke at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in 1700. This name was taken to Ireland mainly in the seventeenth century, but it occurs occasionally a century earlier, for example in a Fiant of 1578 where a list of 'pardons' to soldiers in West Connacht is given. (Fiants were warrants to the Chancery authority for the issue of letters patent under the Great Seal. They dealt with matters ranging from commissions for appointments to high office and important government activities to grants of 'English liberty' and 'pardons' to the humblest of the native Irish). The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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