Origin, Meaning, Family History and Littlejohn Coat of Arms and Family Crest
The surname, probably made most famous by the story of Robin Hood, is historically found in both English and Scotland. The name originated as a pet or nickname as the use of “little” as a prefix to a given name was a practice used in medieval England to distinguish a beloved child that was not the eldest. Thus in this case, the name would have derived as a pet name of a younger child with the given name John. A second source of origin of the use of “little” prior to a given name was also used as a contradictory nickname for a large man, showing the ironic sense of humor of people in the middle-ages.
There are variations of the spelling of this name which include but are not necessarily limited to; Littlejohn; Lyttlejohn; and Lytteljohn. The variation in spelling of names during this time period can be attributed to a lack of continuity regarding guidelines for spelling. Many of these record keepers were in the habit of spelling phonetically, however, what may have sounded one way to one person may have sounded completely different to another. The issue of multiple spellings of names in records was which was compounded by the diversity of languages in use in European countries at this time.
Surnames in Europe prior to the Norman influence were largely unheard of. In the small settlements and villages which existed during earlier times, residents found little need for surnames as everyone in these communities knew each other and a given name would usually suffice. However, with the passage of time, population growth and expansions of communities as villages gave way to towns and cities, it became necessary to add a qualifier to a people’s names to distinguish them, one from another and to make the keeping of tax and census records easier. Therefore, the Norman Nobles’ practice of surnames gained in popularity. In the creating of surnames for the masses, one person may have been identified by their given name plus their occupation while another may have been identified by their given name and one of their parent’s names. There was a boundless supply from which surnames could be formed, in addition to the use of patriarchal/matriarchal names or reference to the individuals occupation, there were things such as defining physical traits, a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, the name of the village in which the person lived, and so much more. Soon, surnames would come not just to represent an individual but whole families.
With the discovery of the Americas and the addition to the British Common Wealth of countries such as Australia, immigration to these new worlds was inevitable. Some of the first settlers on record to America bearing this surname were George Littlejohn who landed in 1630 and settled in New Hampshire. Duncan and Elizabeth Littlejohn arrived in 1775 and settle in New York. Brothers, Peter and Thomas Littlejohn were some of the early settlers to Canada, Landing in Saint Andrews, New Brunswick in1784. Two of the earliest records of Littlejohns migrating to Australia were Hannah and her daughter Mary who arrived in 1849 and settled in South Australia. David Littlejohn was one of the early settlers, landing in Auckland in 1883.
Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Littlejohn are found in New Zealand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. State by state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Littlejohn live in South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
There are a number of persons of note who bear the surname such as, Scottish born surgeon, forensic scientist and public health pioneer, Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn.
Littlejohn was born in Edinburgh and studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, graduating in 1847. Littlejohn co-founded the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh. He was also a pioneering force in the public health movement I Edinburgh, introducing model sanitation. He also introduced legal requirements regarding notification of cases of infectious diseases.
Littlejohn served as a lecturer at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. In 1897, he was appointed Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh and was Medical Adviser to the Crown in Scotland in criminal cases, often being called as an expert witness. As a result of this, Littlejohn was one of Arthur Conan Doyle’s inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.
Littlejohn Coat of Arms Meaning
The four main devices (symbols) in the Littlejohn blazon are the arrow, trefoil, rose and crescent. The three main tinctures (colors) are vert, gules and argent .
The deep green colour that is so often observed in heraldry is more properly known as vert. According to Wade, the use of this colour signifies “Hope and Joy”, but may also represent, rather delightfully, “Loyalty in Love” . It has other names also, the French call it sinople, perhaps after a town in Asia Minor from where the best green die materials could be found . More fanciful heralds liked to associate it with the planet venus and the precious stone emerald . More strangely, there is some evidence that the term prasin was anciently used, being the Greek for the vegetable we call the Leek!
The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” . Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron , perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.
Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) . In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper .
Given the martial nature of the origins of Heraldry, in the identification of knights and men-at-arms it can come as no surprise that mediaeval weaponry of all types are frequently to be found in a coat of arms . The regular prescence of the arrow, both singly and in groups is evidence of this. In British heraldry a lone arrow normally points downward, but in the French tradition it points upwards. . The presence of an arrow in a coat of arms is reckoned to indicate “martial readiness” by Wade.
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur . The trefoil may originally been a representation of a specific plant (perhaps shamrock) but it has been used as a symbol almost since the beginning of heraldry and over time has adopted a stylised aspect. . Guillim believes that it signifies “perpetuity…the just man shall never wither”.
Natural objects abound in heraldry, and one category that gives especial delight are the many flowers and flowering plants that frequently occur . The rose is also of this type, being drawn, at least a little, realistically and often to very pleasing effect. It has long been present in English heraldry, and as a badge and symbol played an enormous in English history throughout the conflict between rival dynasties known as the War of the Roses. In addition to these familial uses, Wade suggests that red roses signify “beauty and grace” and the white represents “love and faith”.