- This distinguished name has two possible sources. Firstly, it may be of Scottish locational origin, from the place called Whithorn, near Wigtown, Galloway; the placename is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwit", white, with "aern", house. St. Ninian, a 5th Century British bishop who preached the gospel among southern Picts, had his centre at "Candida Casa", White House, so called from the white stone church that he built there; Whithorn is a later (early medieval) corruption of the original "Whitehouse". The second possible origin of the modern surname, also found as Whithorn and Whitehorne is from a nickname for someone who had a particularly splendid drinking-horn or trumpet, derived from the Olde English "hwit", in the sense of white, fair, splendid, with "horn", horn. One Thomas Whithorn was listed in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1327. A notable bearer of the name was Peter Whitehorne (flourished 1550 - 1563), a military writer, who served in the armies of the Emperor Charles 5th against the Moors in 1550, and published translations of Machiavelli's treatise on the art of war. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is per chevron flory silver and black, in chief two towers and in base an escallop all counterchanged. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Martin Withorn, which was dated 1275, in the "Hundred Rolls of Suffolk", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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