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. The surname of CROSSON was derived from the Gaelic Mac an Chrosain (cross). It was the name of two distinct septs; the more numerous is of north Ulster now mainly Tyrone, the other is Mid-Leinster. Ballymacrossan lies on the border of Leix and Offaly. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomia of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the father's Christian name, or 'O' to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. 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 English toponymic CROSBIE was adopted by the MacCrossan of Leix who espoused the English cause and migrated to Kerry in the 17th century. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. ( Sir Peter Crosbie, knighted at Theobalds, County Herts, 17th February 1616, son of Patrick Crosbie, alias MacCrossan, who was the elder brother of John Crosbie, Bishop of Ardfert.)
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