Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th Century. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for gentlemen to have but one single name, as the meaner sort had. 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 flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The associated coat of arms for this ancient English surname of YELVERTON are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. They were registered at Rougham, County Norfolk, England. The family were descended from Andrew Yelverton who was living in that county during the reign of Edward II. (1307-1327). The name was originally a locational name from a place in County Norfolk, and a small village in County Devon. The name was originally rendered in the Old English form ELLEFORD, literally meaning the dweller at the elder-tree ford. This place name was recorded in the year 1291, and the farm remained ELFORDTOWN. The Great Western Railway used the dialect form 'Y' on building its station there in 1859. EDFORDLEIGH, in Plympton St. Mary, Devon, is named after Thomas ELFFORDE, circa. 1571. Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God. However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice. A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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