This ancient surname of GIDLOW was of the locational group of surnames 'of Gidleigh' a spot in Devonshire. The name is also spelt GIDLEY and GILDLEIGH and was derived from the Old English word GEDELEGA, literally meaning the dweller at the Leah of Gidda. The earliest of the name on record appears to be GIDELEIA (without surname) who was recorded in Devon in the year 1156. 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 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. GIDDELEGH (without surname) was recorded in 1212 in County Essex, and GUDELEGHE was documented in Devon in the year 1284. As a general rule, the further someone had travelled from his place of origin, the broader the designation. Someone who stayed at home might be known by the name of his farm or 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 the county or region from which he originated. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered at Gidley, County Devon. Granted to Bartholomew GIDLEY of this family, who was an officer in the service of Charles II, and appears to have been in arms for the King before the Restoration, by a large number of silver medallion in his possession. Arms granted in 1671. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe. The eagle depicted in the crest is emblematical of fortitude and magnaminity of mind. The Romans used the figure of an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed. It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany and the United States of America.
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