This surname was derived from the Old English 'Englisc'. The word had originally distinguished Angles from Saxons and other Germanic peoples in the British Isles, but by the time surnames were being acquired it no longer had this meaning. The variants found throughout Europe denote immigrants from England. There is some evidence that the name was used by the Normans as a derogatory distinction between the defeated English and the conquering French after the Norman Conquest of 1066. At the end of thirteenth century L'Englois is found as a surname in Paris, and this may well have been retained by French emigrants returning home. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected.
During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets 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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