This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is a good example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress, and occupation. In this case the surname "pate" and its patronymic form "Pates", indicating "son of Pate", head, skull, and was given as a nickname to a man with a bald head. One John Pates was christened at St. Botolph without Aldgate, London, on May 4th 1613, and the marriage of Thomas Pates and Joana Ady was recorded on April 9th 1694 in Edmonton, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is silver, a chevron in black, between three pellets, on a black chief three crosses crosslet fitchee in silver. The Crest being a demi lion rampant, vair, crowned in gold. The motto: Honeste audax, translating as: Honourably bold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aluric Pate, which was dated circa 1100 - 1130, Devonshire Charters, during the reign of King Henry 1, "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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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