The surname of COOMBE was an occupational name 'the comber' one who combed and looked after the sheep. Most of the occupations or professions reflected in family names are those known in the small villages in Europe, or those followed in a king's or important noble's household, or in some large religious house or monastery. During the middle ages much of Europe was composed of small villages and the occupations would be used to describe the bearer.
Early records of the name mention COMBER (without surname) who was documented in Yorkshire in 1185, and William Comber appears in Lancashire during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Johannes Coomber of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name mention Caleb Coombe and Isabella Swafford, who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1765. John Ball and Mary Coomer were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in 1792.
Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. They were not in use in England or in Scotland before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in the Domesday Book. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. 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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