This surname GEAL which is a variant of Giles was originally of Scottish origin, and was taken to Ireland by early settlers. The name was derived from the Old English name Egidius, and the earliest of the name on record appears to be Egidius Gowsell, documented in the year 1273. Jordan filius Edgidii was recorded in the year 1300. John Geals from Fyvie in Aberdeenshire was killed in the first Great War. 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 11. (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. Later instances of the name mention Nicholas Giles and Christian Newell who were married at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in 1564, and Edwarde Giles and Agnes Herne were married at the same church in the year 1576.
Most of the European surnames 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.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in Ireland.
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