This name occurs frequently in Northumberland in the 12th and 13th centuries as MALTALENT (1170) and MAUTALENT (1230). The first of the name in Scotland was Thomas de MATULANT who appears as a witness to a charter in 1227. Gillebertus de MALTALENT was a charter witness, circa. 1215 and W. (No name recorded) MAUTALENT was one of a number appointed to settle a dispute between the churches of Glasgow and Kelso in 1221. William MATALENT appears as a witness in Kelso charters in 1240. The first people in Scotland to acquire fixed surnames were the nobles and great landowners, who called themselves, or were called by others, after the lands they possessed. Surnames originating in this way are known as territorial. Formerly lords of baronies and regalities and farmers were inclined to magnify their importance and to sign letters and documents with the names of their baronies and farms instead of their Christian names and surnames. The abuse of this style of speech and writing was carried so far that an Act was passed in the Scots parliament in 1672 forbidding the practice and declaring that it was allowed only to noblemen and bishops to subscribe by their titles. The MAITLANDS have distinguished themselves as lawyers and statesmen, and also in the navy and military services of Britain. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. 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. A notable member of the name was Frederic William MAITLAND (1850-1906) the English legal historian, grandson of the historian Samuel Roffey MAITLAND (1792-1866). He was educated at Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, and became a barrister in 1876. He was one of the creators of English legal history.
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