SURNAMES as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th century. They were not in used in England or in Scotland, before the Norman Conquest, and were first found in Europe in the Domesday Book of 1086. 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 was deemed a disgrace for a gentleman to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) it became general practice amongst all people. PROCTER was derived from the latin word 'Procurator' a name used of an attorney in a spiritual court. The name was taken to Scotland by settlers. Early records of the name mention Thomas le Procurator, County Lincolnshire in 1273. Willelmus Proktour of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. As society became more stabilized, there was property to leave in wills, the towns and villages grew and the labels that had served to distinguish a handful of folk in a friendly village were not adequate for a teeming slum where perhaps most of the householders were engaged in the same monotonous trade, so not even their occupations could distinguish them, and some first names were gaining a tiresome popularity, especially Thomas after 1170. The hereditary principle in surnames gained currency first in the South, and the poorer folk were slower to apply it. By the 14th century however, most of the population had acquired a second name. Gavin Proctor became apprentice in the smithy of the abbey in Angus in 1474. Edward Proctor and Effe Shute were married in London in the year 1579. Ann Procter was baptised at St. James, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1625. James Proctor is recorded in Easter-Whiewreath in the year of 1688. The name has many variant spellings which include Prockter, Procktor and Procter.
A notable member of the name was Richard Anthony Proctor (1837-88) the English astronomer, born in Chelsea. A graduate of St. John's College, Cambridge, he devoted himself from 1863 to astronomy. His name is associated with the determination of Mars. He founded a popular scientific magazine 'Knowledge' (1881).
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