This surname of EMSLIE, also spelt as ELMSLIE, ELMSLY, and ELMSLEY is a name now mainly confined to Aberdeenshire, and doubtless of English origin. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Robert de ELMEGHE of Aberdeen, who was recorded in 1296, and William de ELMYSLEY was one on an inquisition in Aberdeen in 1333. Thomas ELMYSLIE was burgess there in 1498, and a William ELMISLIE was resident at Ruthven in 1574. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. Robert ELMSIE was recorded in Cultballoch in 1599, and James EMSLIE, of Loanhead, first systematically quarried the famous Aberdeen granite between 1715 and 1745. A family named ELMSLEY were owners of Pitmedden, Dyce, in the middle of the nineteenth century. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnanimity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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