This surname of ATHERFOLD was of two-fold origin. It was firstly a locational name meaning one who lived near a pen for animals, or an occupational name for one who worked at the sheep-fold one who looked after the sheep, a shepherd. There is also a place Folds, an ancient parish in Bolton, County Lancashire, from which the name may have been derived. The name was originally derived from the Old English word FALOD. Many modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Early records of the name mention Hugh de Foldis who appears in the year 1275 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, and Adam in le Fold was documented in 1327 in Surrey and Derbyshire. John atte Fold was recorded in 1327 in County Surrey, and John del Ffald was mentioned in 1332 in Cumberland. James Foulds of Trawdon, County Chester, listed in the Wills at Chester in 1584. Later instances of the name include James Foulds of Trawdon, who was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1584, and Richard Foulder appears in the same Wills in the year 1677. George Parsons and Mary Foulds were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1779. The name has numerous variants spellings which include Foulder, Foulds, Fold and Fowlds. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. 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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