The surname of HEATHCOCK was a locational name 'of Heathcote' a small place in County Derbyshire. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention Godfrey de Hetcot, 1166, County Derby. Ralph de Hethcote, 1227 ibid. William Heathcote of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that is became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. John Heathcote (1783-1861) was the English inventor, born near Derby. In 1808 he designed a machine for making lace, and set up a factory in Nottingham, which was destroyed in 1816 by the Luddites. He then moved his business to Tiverton in County Devon. He also invented ribbon and net-making machinery. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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