Witherspoon Coat of Arms / Witherspoon Family Crest
This surname of WITHERSPOON was derived from the Old English word 'weoerspong' the dweller on the tongue shaped piece of land, probably a sheep-pasture, or it was an occupational name for a herdsman. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. One of the early records of the name in Scotland was Roger Wythirspon, clerk, who attested a grant by James, the High Steward of lands in Renfew, late in the 13th century. John Wyddirspown was tenant of Dalbeth in 1518. A tenant of Cupar-Angus Abbey was named Wychthirspone in the year 1500. Archibald Wetherspune held the vicarage of Karridden in 1546. Robert Wyddirspoone was a witness in East Lothian in the year 1547. 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.
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