This name GUPWELL and its variant spellings Gupild, and Gupilt, was originally of French origin, from the Old French word 'goupil' meaning 'fox'. The name was probably brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. A family of this name took a prominent part in the affairs of Edinburgh in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and early records of the name mention Matthew Gupi to whom payments were made by the customer of Cupar and Edinburgh in 1328. (A customer was a collector of taxes). William Guppylde had a charter of the lands of Lumlethyn and Cragoc in the sheriffdom of Forfar, from his cousin in 1366 and is probably the same William Gopeld who, along with Walter Gopeld, complained of being plundered by wreckers in England in 1370. (Wreckers were men who lured vessels to destruction that he might share in the plunder). Alba, the country which became Scotland, was once shared by four races; the Picts who controlled most of the land north of the Central Belt; the Britons, who had their capital at Dumbarton and held sway over the south west, including modern Cumbria; the Angles, who were Germanic in origin and annexed much of the Eastern Borders in the seventh century, and the Scots. The latter came to Alba from the north of Ireland late in the 5th century to establish a colony in present day Argyll, which they named Dalriada, after their homeland. The Latin name SCOTTI simply means a Gaelic speaker. Later instances of the name mention William Guppild who is recorded as alderman and burgess of Edinburgh in 1368 and 1380, and the tenement of John Gupilde in Edinburgh is mentioned in 1468. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use.
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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