The surname of ATO was a locational name 'the dweller at the how' the wood or forest, from residence therein. The name has many variant spellings which include Athow, Attoe and Ato, the latter being the spelling familiar to Lincolnshire. ATTEHOE (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, appears to be the first of the name on record, and ATTHEW (without surname) was recorded in 1185 in County Yorkshire. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Almost every city, town or village existing in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. Where a man lived was his means of identification. 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 birthplace, or by the name of the land which he owned. Other records of the name mention Philip Attere, 1273, County Kent. William Attehow was recorded in County Norfolk, during the reign of Edward I (1279-1307). Thomas Attehow de Methwolde, was the vicar of Griston, County Norfolk in the year 1357, and Clement Atta was the rector of Bicham-well, County Norfolk in 1623. Thomas Vincent and Dynah Athow were married in Canterbury, Kent in the year 1694. At first, the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield, and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing a draped garment worn over the armour. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. (Athowe). Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name.
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