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Westworth Coat of Arms / Westworth Family Crest

The surname of WESTWORTH was a locational name 'the dweller at the west farm in the village or town'. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form WEST + WOR. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The name is also spelt WESTWAY, and WESTERTH. Early records of the name mention WESTWYRTH (without surname) who was recorded in 1185. Local names find their origins in the villages, towns and areas where people were born, or from the land they owned. In the Middle Ages, a man was identified by his place of birth and almost every city, town and village existing in medieval times has originated one or more family names. Anyone leaving his birthplace would be known to new friends and neighbours by the name of his former residence, his birthplace, or the land he owned. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification. Later instances of the name include Joane WESTRA who was buried at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1549, and Richard WESTRAY and Joanne Fuller were married at St. Antholin London in the year 1552. Edward Hill wed Ellen WESTWRAYE in London in the year 1582. 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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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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