The name MacKEVITT has been perennially popular in honour of the biblical king of that name, the greatest of early kings of Israel, and led to this being a given name throughout Europe in the Middle Ages. Its popularity increased in Britain firstly by virtue of its being the name of the patron saint of Wales (about which very little is known); he was probably a 6th century monk and bishop, and secondly because it was borne by two kings of Scotland (David I reigned 1124-53 and David II (1329-71). An Irish and Welsh derivative of the name, TAFFE became established in Europe after the failure of the Stuart cause, and rose to high office in Austria, notably Nicholas Taffe (died 1769) who served in the Imperial Army and was created a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1758. Its popularity in Russia is largely due to the fact that this was the church name adopted by St. Gleb (died 1015) one of the two sons of Vladimir, duke of Muscovy, who were martyred for their Christian zeal.
Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
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.
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