The surname of GAY was a locational name 'of Gaye', a place name in France. Also a nickname 'the light spirited person'. The name was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Habitation names are derived from names denoting towns, villages, farmsteads or other named places, which include rivers, houses with signs on them, regions, or whole counties. The original bearer of the name who stayed in his area might be known by the name of his farm, or the locality in the parish; someone who moved to another town might be known by the name of his village; while someone who moved to another county could acquire the name of that county or the region from which he originated. Early records of the name mention Oswald le Gay of the County of Surrey in 1176. Gilbert Gay of the County of Lancashire was documented in the year 1191. Adam le Gay of the County of Oxfordshire was recorded in the year 1273. William Gaye of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Gay (1685-1732) was an English playwright and author of 'The Beggar's Opera'. He was born in Barnstable, Devon, into a prosperous family and educated at Barnstable Grammar School. He was apprenticed to a silk-mercer in London, but soon returned home and became a writer. In 1708 he published his first poem 'Wine'. In 1728 his greatest success, the opera, brought him wealth and fame. He was buried in Westminster Abbey. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Arms registered at Alborough, County Norfolk. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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