The surname of HUNTER was derived from the Old Englis HUNTE. An official name given to 'one who hunted'. In early charters the name was Latinized as VENATOR. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. 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. William Venator, who was one of the witnesses to the Inquisition of Earl David, before 1124, is apparently the first of the name to appear in Scotland. Adam Hunter was granted the hereditary office of sargeantry in all causes touching life and limb throughout the abbey land of Crauford belonging to the Abbey of Newbattle, before 1259. Aymon Hunter was the baillie of the burgh of Cullen in the year 1338. Adam le Huntere was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Surnames before the Norman Conquest of 1066 were rare in England having been brought by the Normans when William the Conqueror invaded the shores. The practice spread to Scotland and Ireland by the 12th century, and in Wales they appeared as late as the 16th century. Most surnames can be traced to one of four sources, locational, from the occupation of the original bearer, nicknames or simply font names based on the first name of the parent being given as the second name to their child. Hunter is the name of a Scottish family established at Hunterston in the former county of Ayrs (now part of the Strathclyde region), an estate which was granted to Norman Huntar in 1271. Earlier records were witnessed by Norman and William Huntar or Venator (a Latin translation) in 1116. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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