This French surname of MAISONNETT was a locational name for 'one who lived in the small house or cottage'. The houses or cottages in medieval times were circular huts built by shepherds and others. It was constructed of stakes driven into the ground and forked or tied together at the top. The name is also spelt MAISON and MAISONET. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name. America was colonized by peoples from all over the world in a very short period of time, and mostly, in the case of French immigrants they have stayed together in Louisiana. Of the early immigrants to America the French have fared the worst in respect of their names, chiefly because of the difficulties experienced by the Americans in pronouncing them correctly. Many have been translated into English names.
French heraldry bears a close relationship to British. From the Renaissance people tended to place only their coronets of rank upon their helmets. By the 18th century the helmet had also been abandoned and coronets were placed directly above the shield. After the French Revolution of 1789, heraldry was abolished, being replaced some 15 years later by a new Imperial heraldry, characterised by weapons and images of Napoleonic campaigns, crests, helmets and mottoes being removed.
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