This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name from residence near a hill slope, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "helde, hi(e)lde, hylde", slope. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Early examples of the surname include: Richard del Helde, witness, noted in the 1246 Assize Court Rolls f Lancashire; Hamon Attenhelde, mentioned in Archaeological Records of Kent, dated circa 1260; and Eustace ater Hylde, entered in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. In the modern idiom the surname has four variant spellings: Heald, Held, Hield and Hields. On January 22nd 1538, Margaret Helde and John Hancock were married at Nonington, Kent, and on December 18th 1613, the marriage of Elizabeth Heald to George Beck took place at Canterbury, Kent. In 1603, one Robert Heald, of Bury, was noted in the Wills Records held at Chester, and James Heald, philanthropist, and M.P. for Stockport, 1847 - 1852, was the founder of Stockport Infirmary in Cheshire. A Coat of Arms granted to the Heald family is described thus: "Argent, on a chevron between three bombs sable fired proper, as many bezants, a chief of the second. Crest: A sword and key in saltire proper". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de Helde, which was dated 1207, in the "Pipe Rolls of Kent", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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