This distinguished surname, having a fine Coat of Arms, and with several notable entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", is of early medieval Scottish origin, and is a territorial name from the lands of Geddes in Nairnshire, believed to be so called from a Gaelic term for a mountain ridge. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially s a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. The family had a grant of the lands of Ladyurd in the barony of Kirkurd in 1406, and in 1408, Matthew de Geddes (below) was rector of the Church of Forest. Alexander Geddes, noted in Episcopal Registers of Glasgow was a licenciate in theology at that city in 1452, and some twenty years prior to that, a grant of the lands of Ladyurd was made to "ane honest man William of Geddes", when John of Geddes, laird of half of Ladyurd, resigned the property into the hands of his overlord. Michael Geddes (1650 - 1713), divine, was one of the first four Scottish students at Balliol College, Oxford (1672), and Sir William Duguid Geddes (1828 - 1900) was professor of Greek at University and King's College, Aberdeen (1855). The family Coat of Arms is a red shield with a silver inescutcheon between three gold pikes' heads couped, the Crest being a pike's head couped proper, and the Motto "Capta majora". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Master Matthew de Geddes, a churchman, which was dated 1405, in the "Records of those granted a safe conduct to England", during the reign of King Robert 111 of Scotland, 1390 - 1406. 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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