The surname of HORSFIELD was a locational name 'the dweller at the horse-field' an enclosure for horses. There was a place so called in Yorkshire, now extinct. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from prexisting names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. Early records of the name mention Dorothie, daughter of William Horsefold, who was baptised at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1596. Richard Thornton and Elizabeth Horsefield, were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1795. The name is also spelt HORSEFIELD and HORSFELD. 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. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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