The surname of GIDDENS was a locational name from a group of villages near County Huntingdonshire, called Great, Little and Steeple Gidding. The name was originally derived from the Old English word GYDDINGAS, literally meaning 'The people of Gydda'. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is often assumed that men 'adopted' their surnames. Some certainly did, but the individual himself had no need for a label to distinguish him from his fellows. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each knight owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized. Monasteries drew up surveys and extents with details of tenants of all classes in their services. Any description which identified the man was satisfactory, his father's name, the name of his land, or a nickname known to be his. The upper classes mostly illiterate, were those with whom the officials were chiefly concerned and among them surnames first became numerous and hereditary. Early records of the name mention Nicholas de Gedding, County Essex, 1273. Henry de Geddinge was documented during the reign of Edward 1 (1272 - 1307). Thomas Gidden of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name include Richard Gunning and Mary Giddings who were married at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in 1702.
A notable member of the name was Joshua Reed Giddings (1795-1864) the American Politician and anti-slavery campaigner, born in Athens, Pennsylvannia. He sat in congress from 1838 until 1859, and in 17861 he was appointed consul-general in Canada.
The name has many variant spellings which include Giddings, Gittens and Gittings.
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