The surname of WHITEHURST was a locational name 'the dweller at the white house, from residence therein'. The name is widespread, although especially common in the west midlands. The name was originally derived from the Old English word 'WHITHOUS'. Whittus in County Cumberland is also a spot from where the early bearers might well have derived their name. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. Almost every city, town or village existing in the Middle Ages has served to name one or more families. Where a man lived was his means of identification. When a man left his birthplace or village where he had been known, and went elsewhere, people would likely refer to him by the name of his former residence or birthplace, or by the name of the land which he owned. Early records mention Stephen atte Whithous was documented in County Somerset, during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377). William Withouse of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Edward Whitehus appears in Nottingham in the year 1380. Surnames as we recognise them today are believed to have been introduced by the Normans after the Invasion of 1066. The first mention of such names appears in the Domesday Book and they were progressively adopted between the 11th and 15th centuries. It was the nobles and upper classes who first assumed a second name, setting them apart from the common people who continued to use only the single name given to them at birth. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became common practice to use a secondary name, originally a name reflecting the place of birth, a nickname, an occupational name or a baptismal name which had been passed on from a parent to the child, as an additional means of identification. A later instance of the name mentions Gualtero Bernard and Mary Whitehouse who were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1720. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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