The surname of WEDDELL was a locational name from Wedale, the old name of the parish of Stow in Midlothian. The name was originally derived from the Old Norman name WEDDOEL, and was brought into Scotland in the wake of the Anglo-Norman Invasion of 1066. The name is also spelt WADDEL, WADDELL, WEDALE and WADDALE. The earliest bearer of the name is Adam de Wedale 'an outlaw of the King of Scots land' who appears in 1204. Thomas de Wedal was canon of St. Andrews, 1280. Symon de Wedehale was consecrated bishop of Galloway in 1327. Henry of Wedale had a safe conduct into England in 1400. 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. 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. A notable member of the name was Helen WADDELL (1889-1965) the English medievalist and writer. She published 'The Desert Fathers' (1936) among others.
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