The surname of WHEAT was an official name 'the wait' the watchman, the name was derived from the Old French word 'waite' and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. 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. Other spellings of the name include WHAYT, WHAYTER, WHEATE, WHEETS and WEYT. Early records of the name mention Ailward Waite who was documented in 1170 in Northumberland, and Roger le Wayte was recorded in 1221 in County Suffolk. Robert le Weyte appears in the year 1273 in County Oxford. Johannes Wayte was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Barbara the wife of Thomas Waite was buried at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1636. The name was taken early to Scotland and Adam Wayt was a witness in Aberbrothoc in 1312 and Thomas Dictus Weyt was a chaplain at Inverness in 1361. Thomas Waith was a charter witness in Kelso in the year 1505 and George Waitt in Manderstoun was recorded in 1665. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Registered at Woodborough, near Bath.
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