HEAD was a locational name, denoting the dweller at the head of a valley or source of a stream. Local names usually indicated where a man held his land. Early records of the name mention Thomas del Heved who was recorded in the year 1273 in the County of Nottingham. Willelmus del Heued of Yorkshire, appears in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name appears as a principal name in the Irish census of 1659 in Counties Meath and Tipperary, Waterford and Cork. Though of English origin, families of this name were mainly Catholic and transplantation as papists under Cromwell, no doubt account for their presence in East Galway today.
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, coat 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. Richard Head (1637-1686) was the English hack-writer, born in Ireland. He is best known as the author of part one of 'The English Rogue' (1665-71), the other three parts being by the bookseller Francis Kirkman.
Sir Edmund Walker, 8th Baronet Head (1805-68) was the English administrator born near Maidstone. He was educated at Oriel College, Oxford and became a fellow at Merton. After serving as a poor-law commissioner, he was lieutenant-governor of New Brunswick (1847-54) then governor-general of Canada until 1861.
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