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Grandstaff Coat of Arms / Grandstaff Family Crest

Grandstaff Coat of Arms / Grandstaff Family Crest

There is a large group of surnames, more frequent in English, French, German and Italian names, which are actually a compound of nickname and occupation. They consist of an adjective indicating size or an attractive quality as a prefix attached to a given name. GRANDSTAFF is such a name literally meaning the large and important man who carried a staff of office, a reminder of his right to inflict physical discipline. The name was derived from the Old German word 'stab', and was no doubt brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The name has confined itself mainly to the Norfolk area. Many modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Early records of the name mention William Staf who was recorded in the year 1177 in County Suffolk. Thomas le Staf appears in 1297 in County Essex. Thomas Staff of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Chaucer (1340-1400) wrote a poem and used the name as a thinness or leanness.

" Ful longe were his legges and ful lene, Ylyk a staf, ther was no calf ysene."

It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. The arms depicted here have been quartered with GRAND and STAFF.

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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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