This name WILLSTEAD is of the locational group of surnames, meaning the dweller at the homestead by a well. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. There is also a place from which the name may have been derived Wellshead, near Exford, County Somerset. Early records of the name mention Robert se Wellested, 1305, County Kent. Walter atte Wellesheuede, was recorded in County Somerset in the year 1327. Edward Wellsteade of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Robert Welsted of County Somerset, registered at Oxford University in 1585. Henry Welstead of Dorset, registered there in 1606. Henry Welstod and Katherine Clarke were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1608. Richard, son of Richard Wellstead was baptised at St. James's, in the year 1741. 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.At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour. The name has many variant spellings which include Wellstead, Wellsteed, Welsted, Wellstood and Willsteed. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. 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.
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