This English (chiefly Devon and Somerset name) of YOE was of two-fold origin. It was a topographic name for someone who lived near a stream, derived from the Old English word EA (stream, river), which became YA or YO in the Middle English dialects of Somerset and Devon, and gave rise to several river names and minor placenames in this region. It was also an occupational name 'the yeoman' of some estate or an attendant in a noble house. The name later came to mean a freeholder under the rank of gentleman. A man who owned free land of forty shillings annual value in the 14th century, one who was able to serve on a jury, vote for his knight or shire. During the reign of Henry VII yeomen were appointed as his personal bodyguards, and they now act chiefly as warders of the Tower of London. The name is also spelt YEOH, YEA, ATTYEAR, YEAMNA, YOUNKMAN, YEMON, YHOMAN, ZEMAN, YEOMANS and YOEMAN. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. Early records of the name mention William Zeman, 1296, County Essex. John Yemon was recorded in County Lancashire in the year 1332. Henricus Yhoman, of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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