The surname of WANTON was a locational name meaning 'the dweller at the WANTE' the cross-roads from residence nearby. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name is derived from the Old English word WHANTE. WANTE (without surname) who was recorded in the year 1185, appears to be the first of the name on record and James atte Wanton was recorded in 1273 in County Sussex. Other records of the name mention Edwin Wantone, 1207, County Norfolk. Benedict le Wantone, was documented in the year 1327, in County Sussex. 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. 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 shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. Edwin Whanton of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. The arms are registered in County Huntingdon.
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