The surname of ATHILL was of the locational group of surnames meaning 'the dweller at the hill' from residence nearby. Almost every city, town or village extant in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. While a man lived in a town or village he would not be known by its name, as that would be no means of identification - all in the village would be so named. But when a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known and went elsewhere, people would likely refer to him by the name of his former residence or by the name of the land which he owned. Some had the name of a manor or village because they were lords of that place and owned it, but the majority descend from vassals of freeman who once had lived there. Early records of the name mention Bateman Attehil who was recorded in County Cambridge in the year 1273. Edward Athill appears in County Norfolk in the year 1300, and Gregory Attehill was rector of Ingworth, County Norfolk, in the year 1356. Thomas Attehylle of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. A later instance of the name mentions Edward Dixon who married Margaret Athill in London in the year of 1558. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. 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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