The surname of CUSTARD was a baptismal name 'the son of Constantine' an ancient font name. This Anglo-Norman family said to be descended from a certain Radulf, who is recorded as holder of land in Shropshire in the Domesday Book. Walter de Constantiis (died 1207) was Vice Chancellor of England in 1173, and as archbishop of Rouen he was present at the coronation of Richard I. Bearers of this name are frequently recorded in Norman and English records between 918 and 1206. The name is also spelt COSTARD, COSTARD and CONSTANCE. Early records of the name mention CONSTANCE Frenshe who was baptised at St. James's, in Clerkenwell, London in the year 1568. George Medley married Elizabeth CONSTANCE at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1792. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. 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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