The surname of WHITCOMBE was a locational name 'of Whitcombe Magna' a parish in County Gloucestershire, near Painswick. There are also places of the name in Dorset, and the Isle of Wight, from where the original bearer may have derived his name. The name was derived originally from the Old English word HWITCUMB. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land and indicated where he actually lived. Early records of the name mention William de Whitecumbe, 1201 County Somerset. Robert de Wythercoumb, 1332 County Sussex. Thomas Witcombe of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did. A later instance of the name includes a James Rendall and Rachel Witcomb who were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1757. 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 name is also spelt Whitcomb.
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