This surname of HOAD and its variants Hoadly and Hoadley was a topographic name for someone who lived on a heath, and was originally derived from the Old English word HAO. This form of the name was restricted in the Middle Ages to the south-east of England, and the surname is still confined mainly to Kent and Essex. In some cases it may be specifically a habitation name from the village of Hoath in County Kent. Local names find their origins in the villages, towns and areas where people were born, or from the land they owned. In the Middle Ages, a man was identified by his place of birth and almost every city, town and village existing in medieval times has originated one or more family names. Anyone leaving his birthplace would be known to new friends and neighbours by the name of his former residence, his birthplace, or the land he owned. The earliest of the name on record appears to be John del Hoth, who was documented in 1275 in County Norfolk, and Simon atte Hothe appears in 1296 in County Sussex. At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. A notable member of the name was Benjamin Hoadly (1676-1761) the English prelate, born in Westerham, Kent. He was Bishop successively of Bangor (1715) Hereford (1721) Salisbury (1723) and Winchester (1734). He defended the cause of civil and religious liberty against both the crown and the clergy. A sermon before the King in 1717, sought to show that Christ had not delegated His powers to any ecclesiastical authorities. This led to a fierce controversy. The name has numerous variants which include Hothe, Hoth, Hoad and Hoather. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884 (Hothe).
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