This surname was a nickname 'the paunch-face' a name given to a man of corpulence. The name was originally derived from the Old French PAUNCEFOT, and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1086. There is also a place of the name in County Devon. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. In the middle ages it was customary for a man to be named after the village where he lived or from the land that he owned. This would identify his whole family, and followed them wherever they moved. Early records of the name mention PAUNCEUOLT (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. 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. Hunfridus Pancheuot was recorded in 1148 in Hampshire, and Edward Pancefot appears in 1197 in County Worcestershire. Richard Poncefot was documented in 1180, London. Walter Pauncefot of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Tracy Pauncfoot was recorded in London in the year 1702. The name has many variant spellings which include Pouncett, Pauncefot and Pauncefort. 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 and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.
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