The surname of WILLISHIRE was a locational name - from the shire so called. The name was derived from the Old English elements of WILTON (once its principal town) and SCIR (meaning district, administration division). In the middle ages it was customary for a man to be named after the village where he held his land: this name identified his whole family and followed him wherever he moved. It could have been his place of birth, or the name of his land-holding. Early records of the name mention WILTESCIRE (without surname) who was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, and the name appears as WILTESHIRE in the year 1100. Michael de Wyltshire, 1273 County Cambridge. Almaric de Wiltshire, 1213 County Wiltshire. Almaric de Wiltshire was recorded in 1313 in County Somerset. Richard Willshire of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Cane and Marye Wilshire were married at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1653. John Wiltshire married Ann Hazell, St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1794. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
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.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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