This surname of EYE is a locational name from EYE, a parish in County Norfolk, a parish in Northampton and a parish in County Hereford. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form EA, literally meaning the dweller beside or near a river. The name is also spelt EY. The earliest of the name on record appears to be EIA (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. EYE (without surname) was recorded in County Suffolk in the year 1158. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Later instances of the name mention Stephen de EYE, who was documented in County York in the year 1273, and Peter atte EYE was recorded during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). Agnes de EYE of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. 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. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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