The surname of GROTHE was a nickname 'one who was heavy'. The name was originally derived from the Old French word GROSJEAN, and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. Early records of the name mention Almaricus Grossus, 1273 County Oxford. Roger le Gros of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name is also spelt GROS, GROSS, GROSSE, CROCE and GROCJEAN. Later instances of the name mention Charles Groce and Elizabeth Swollowe who were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1673. John Manley and Anne Grosse were married in Canterbury, Kent in the year 1678. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that 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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