The surname of CORTIS was derived from the Old French word 'curteis' meaning courteous, in feudal society one of courtly manners, a well educated man. It was a popular surname from the 13th century onwards. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Early records of the name mention Richard Curtayse, County Somerset during the reign of Henry II (1216-1272). Johannes Curtas of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Elizabeth Curtys was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1569.
One of the most notable of the name is Tony Curtis, born in 1946. He is a Welsh poet, born in Carmarthen and educated at University College, Swansea, and Goddard College, Vermont. He has published four collections of verse, prose poems and short stories. In 1984, he won first prize in the National Poetry Competition.
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 and draped garment worn over the armour.
The name was taken to Ireland by settlers during the 13th century and in Irish is 'de Cuirteis'.
In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Ars in 1884.
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