The surname of ERLER was a locational name 'of Earley' a parish in the diocese of Oxford. The name was derived from the old English elements of EARN (eagle) and LEAH (wood-clearing) literally meaning the dweller at the cleared area. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention John le Erlea, 1160, County Norfolk. Clemens de Erleghe, was documented in County Somerset in the year 1273. Warin de Erlegh of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. A later instance of the name mention Thomas Early and Agnes Odium, who were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1580. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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