The surname of ERATH was of the locational group of surnames 'of Erith' a spot in County Kent and there is also a place of the name in Huntingdonshire, from where the original bearer may have taken his name. The name was derived from the Old English word EARHYP, literally meaning the dweller at the Gravel-harbour. The earliest of the name on record appears to be ERHEDE (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. The earliest English placenames were those taken over by the Anglo-Saxons from the Britons at the time of their settlement in Britain between the 5th and 6th centuries. It was after the Norman Conquest of 1066 that hereditary surnames began to be used. Many of the incoming Normans identified themselves by reference to the estates from which they had come in Northern France, and others took names from the places in England in which they settled. EARHETHAM (without surname) was recorded in Kent in the year 1097, and Edward Earith of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. The name is also spelt Erith. The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnaminity 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.
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