This surname of WHITENER is an English occupational name for a bleacher or whitener of cloth. The name also meant one who was the inspector who was required to stamp his approval on cloth. Many crafts were required regarding cloth and wool, first from the shearing of sheep to the finished article. The occupation of the officer whose duty it was to inspect all cloths for proper quality and length and attach his seal of approval, was an unpopular official. It was known in the Middle Ages that such a person could be mobbed and mortally wounded, should his sanction not be given. The name is also spelt WHITEN, WITEN, WHITENER, WHITE and WHITSON. Early records of the name mention Whita (without surname) listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086. Geoffrey le Whyte of County Cambridge, 1273. Thomas White was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Magota Whyte, 1379, ibid. Other records of the name mention Wyctman de Freton of the County of Essex in 1240. William Wightman of the County of Cumberland in 1332. Richard Wightman was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Roger Wightman, son of John Whightman, miller, of the County of Yorkshire in 1639. The names introduced into Britain by the Normans during the Invasion of 1066 were of three kinds. There were names of Norse origin which their ancestors had carried into Normandy; names of Germanic origin which the Frankish conquerors had brought across the Rhine and which had ousted the old Celtic and Latin names from France, and Biblical names and names of Latin and Greek saints. These names they retained even after the customs and language of the natives of Northern France had been adopted by them. After the Norman Conquest not only Normans, but Frenchmen and Bretons from other parts of France settled in England, and quite a few found their way north into Scotland. 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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