This English surname HOLTOM is of local origin, being of the group of surnames based on the place where the original bearer lived, or held land. In this instance, the name is simply derived from the place-name Holton, the name of towns in Lincolnshire, Oxford and Somerset. The name was from the Old English word HOLTUME, and literally meant the dweller by the wood or forest, from residence nearby. Early records of the name mention HOUTUNE (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Houtuna (without surname) was recorded in County Lancashire in the year 1202. Hugo de Holte, was documented in the year 1200 in the County of Lancashire. Richard de Holte of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Alicia de Holttum, 1379, ibid. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name.
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