The surname of WILLINGHAM was a locational name 'of Willingham', the name of several places in England. Local names derive from a place name, indicating where the man held land, or the place from which he had come, or where he actually lived. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that is became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. Early records of the name mention Wiuelingham (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086.
Chyry Wyhynham of the County of Yorkshire in 1386. 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according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans.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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