The surname of SYDENHAM was a locational name 'of Sydenham' a parish in County Kent, near Blackheath. Early records of the name mention John le Sydenham, County Somerset, 1273. William de Sydenham of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Simon de Sidenham, 1300, ibid. Humphrey Sydenham and Elizabeth St. John were married in Canterbury, Kent in the year 1674. Thomas Sydenham and Frances Bunbury were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1803. A family of this name, originally from Sydenham in Somerset, settled at Wynford Eagle in County Dorset. This estate had been bought in the time of Henry VIII. Descendants included Thomas Sydenham (1624-89) who is regarded as the founder of clinical medicine. 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 many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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