This surname of REDHED, also spelt Redhead, is an English and Scottish nickname for someone with red hair. The name was originally derived from the Old English word HEAFOD. In some cases the name may also have been a topographic name for someone who lived at the 'red-headland'. The earliest record of the name appears to be a William REDHED, who was documented in the year 1273,in County Yorkshire and Adam REDHEAD was recorded in 1256 in Northumberland. 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. Later instances of the name include Thomas REDHEAD of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Marian READHEAD of Nobthwaite, Furness, was listed in the Wills at Richmond in 1641. 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. Isabell REDHEAD was buried at Ulverston Church in the year 1547, and Richard REDHEAD of Water-end in Blawith, was listed in the Lancashire Wills at Ricmond in 1627. In the Middle Ages the Herald (old French herault) was an officer whose duty it was to proclaim war or peace, carry challenges to battle and messages between sovereigns; nowadays war or peace is still proclaimed by the heralds, but their chief duty as court functionaries is to superintend state ceremonies, such as coronations, installations, and to grant arms. Edward III (1327-1377) appointed two heraldic kings-at-arms for south and north, England in 1340. The English College of Heralds was incorporated by Richard III in 1483-84.
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