The surname of MOSS was a locational name 'the dweller at the moss' from residence nearby. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name is also spelt MOSSE, MOS and MOSE. Early records of the name mention Henry Mosse who was recorded in 1273 in County Lincolnshire. Robertus de Mos of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The name was taken to Scotland by settlers and Gregory de Moss was a tenant of the earl of Douglas in Louchurde in 1376. James Mose was recorded in Kelso in 1567, and James Moss was a mealmaker in Ridpeth in the same year. The Orcadian surname of Moss is derived from the farm of Moss in the parish of Holm. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. In 1705, James Moss left W100 for the purchase of land, the income to provide five gowns for five aged men living in Manchester. These were to be presented on Christmas morning before prayers, in the south porch of the parish church in Manchester. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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