This ancient surname recorded in all parts of the British Isles, derives from the Old French "Corteis" or "Curteis" meaning "refined" or "accomplished" and was originally given as a baptismal name to a child. One Curteis de Capella appears in the 1130 Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire. The surname is first recorded shortly afterwards, and many other forms of the name soon developed. In the modern idiom, the name has at least twelve spelling variations including Curtis(s), Curtice, Curthoys, Cortes, and Kertess. Early examples of the recordings include Robert Le Curteis of Devon in 1168, Ralph Le Curtoys of Lincoln in 1230, and John Le Kurtoys in the 1238 register of Kirkstall Abbey, Yorkshire. Amongst the many interesting recordings of this famous surname is that of Henry Curtis, aged 27 yrs., who embarked from London on May 25th 1635 on the ship "Elizabeth and Ann" bound for New England. He was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to enter America. Patrick Curtis (1740 - 1832) was Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, in 1819, and advocated Catholic emancipation before a committee of the House of Lords in 1825. The blazon of the coat of arms is that of a silver field, a black chevron between the bulls heads cabossed, red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Curteis, which was dated 1166, in the "Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches" 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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