This surname of WELCOME was a locational name 'of WELLCOMBE' a parish in County Devon five miles from Hartland. The name was derived from the Old English word WALCOME, literally meaning the dweller in a valley with a spring or stream. The earliest of the placename on record appears to be WELLECOMBE which was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086. Habitation names were originally acquired by the original bearer of the name, who, having lived by, at or near a place, would then take that name as a form of identification for himself and his family. When people lived close to the soil as they did in the Middle Ages, they were acutely conscious of every local variation in landscape and countryside. Every field or plot of land was identified in normal conversation by a descriptive term. If a man lived on or near a hill or mountain, or by a river or stream, forests and trees, he might receive the word as a family name. Almost every town, city or village in early times, has served to name many families. Picotus WILICOM was recorded in Cambridge in the year 1273, and Robert de WELCOMBE of County Somerset, was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. Later instances of the name include John WILLICOME and Jone Lemman who were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1609, and Thomas WELCOME of Dalton was listed in the Lancashire Wills at Richmond in 1631. 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.
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