Most of the PATTEN families and the variant PATTON are found for the most part in Ulster where most will be of settler lineage, their forbears came to the province from Scotland or from England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name is from the Irish O'PEATAIN - meaning the son of Patrick. The tradition of surnames in Ireland developed spontaneously, as the population increased and the former practice, first of single names and then of ephemeral patronymics or agnomina of the nickname type proved insufficiently definitive. At first the surname was formed by prefixing 'Mac' to the father's Christian name or 'O 'to that of a grandfather or earlier ancestor. Early records of the name mention Patone de Hangaldsyde, of Ireland in 1467. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames: they came into being fairly generally in the eleventh century and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Paten Broune who was documented in 1407 in Ayrshire, appears to be the first of the name on record in Scotland. Thomas Pattoun was the burgess of Aberdeen in 1538, and John Pattoun was the burgess of Dundee in 1597. Alexander Patone of Kinaldie was one of the commissioners appointed for ratifying the valuations of Aberdeenshire in 1662. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. PATTEN was an old English word for a clog, and they were worn by ecclesiastics anciently probably to protect the feet from the chill of the bare ground.
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