During the Middle Ages surnames were first used in order to distinguish between numbers of people bearing the same christian name. As taxation, under William The Conqueror, who invaded England in 1066, became the law, documentation became essential, and names were chosen from a man's trade, his father's name, some personal physical characteristic, or from his place of residence. In the case of the name THIRSK it was a locational name from a place so called in the North Riding of Yorkshire. The name was originally rendered in the Old Swedish form TRASK, literally meaning the dweller by the lake, and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. The earliest of the name on record appears to be TRESCH (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book, and TRESCS (without surname) was documented in Yorkshire in 1150. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries.
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. Later instances of the name mention Johannes de THRESK of Yorkshire, who was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Adam THIRSK appears in the same document. John Lambe and Elizabeth THURSK, were married at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1575. The lion depicted in the arms is the noblest of all wild beasts which is made to be the emblem of strength and valour, and is on that account the most frequently borne in Coat-Armour.
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