This Italian surname of GERVASI was originally derived from the Norman personal name GERVASE, composed of the element GARI (spear). The name was popular throughout Europe in the Middle Ages, partly because it was borne by a saint who was martyred under the Roman Emperor Domitian; this saint became one of the patrons of Milan. It is also a habitation name from Jervaulx in North Yorkshire in England. It was the site of a famous Cistercian monastery. The name has numerous variant spellings which include GERVIS, GERVASE, GERVOIS, GERVEX, HERVAS, VAAS, FAAS, and FASIN, to name but a few. This name would have been brought into England in the wake of the Norman invasion of 1066 with William the Conqueror and it appears that members of the family originally settled in Yorkshire although the name is now widespread. Early records of the name mention Geruasius Painel, who was recorded in Leicester in the year 1158. John filius Gervacii, was recorded in the year of 1273 in County Cambridge. Robert de Gervaux was documented in County Somerset during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and Richard Gervas appears in Lancashire in 1435. Geruasius et Uxor of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Baptised. Elizabeth Jarvill St. Michael, Cornhill, London in 1560. Richard Chandler married Winifred Jervoise, at Canterbury in Kent in 1662. Jervoice, son of John Finch was baptised at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1729. 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. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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