This surname of GULLY was a nickname for a giant or large man, originally derived from the Middle English word GOLIAS. This was taken from the Hebrew personal name GOLYAT (Goliath), which occurs in the Bible as the name of the champion of the Philstines, who stood 'six cubits and a span' but was defeated in single combat by the shepherd boy David (I Sam.17), who killed him with a stone from his sling. The name was rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form GULA. The name has travelled widely in many forms which include GULLE, GULLY, GULLYES, GOLLEY and GOLLY. 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 earliest of the name on record appears to be Robert GULLE, who was recorded in Lincolnshire, England in the year 1273, and Johannes GULLE of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert de GOLEHEYE, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). A notable member of the name was John GULLY (1783-1863) the English sportsman, born in Wick near Bristol. A butcher to trade, he was the British heavyweight boxing champion (1806-08) and then became a publican. In the 1830's he took up horse-racing and won the Derby three times. He was MP for Pontefract (1832-37) and later became a colliery owner. He was the father of 24 childen. 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.
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