The giving of a pledge in medieval times was a matter of great significance to both parties, and may be described as one of the early forms of the modern banking system. A "pledger" could be described as a cross between a lawyer and a merchant banker, being one who legally stood as guarantor for another person, acting as a form of collateral. That the position was highly regarded is confirmed by the grant of Arms to the family of Pledger of Bottlesham, Cambridge, in the time of Elizabeth 1, of a black shield charged with a fess engrailed, between three bucks, pellettee, all gold.The gold pellets refer to coins, a clear reference to the occupation of the recipient. For reasons which are not clear the name is first recorded in Cambridge (see below), and is not apparently found in London until March 20th 1648, when Philip and Elizabeth Pleager (as spelt) were witnesses at the christening of their daughter, Mary, at the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great. In 1669, on November 28th, another Philip, this time recorded (correctly) as Pledger, was christened at St. Giles Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomae Pledger, which was dated March 11th 1586, a witness at the christening of his daughter, Alicia, at Balsham, Cambridge, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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