The Theriault's


Theriault Family Crest
Slee Family Crest
Theriault Surname History

Theriault Meaning:  The descendant of Theodoricus (mighty ruler).

This Spanish and French surname of THERIAULT was a habitation name from any of the numerous places so called, from the Spanish REAL, meaning encampment, rural property. It was also a nickname for someone who behaved in a regal manner or an occupational name for someone in the service of the king, originally rendered in the Latin form REGALIS. In Spain identifying patronymics are to be found as early as the mid-9th century, but these changed with each generation, and hereditary surnames seem to have come in slightly later in Spain than in England and France. As well as the names of the traditional major saints of the Christian Church, many of the most common Spanish surnames are derived from personal name of Germanic origin. For the most part these names are characteristically Hispanic. They derive from the language of the Visigoths, who controlled Spain between the mid-5th and early 8th centuries.

The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected.

The name was taken to America by early settlers. When the first immigrants from Europe went to America, the only names current in the new land were Indian names which did not appeal to Europeans vocally, and the Indian names did not influence the surnames or Christian names already possessed by the immigrants.

French settlers came early to North America, following the wake of the explorers, and creating New France. Quebec City, founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain is said to have been the first American site founded as a permanent settlement, rather than just a commerical outpost. But emigration was slow, in 1643, 109 years after the first landings by Cartier, there were only about 300 French people in Quebec. By 1663,when the region was officially made The Royal Colony of New France by Louis XIV, there were still only around 500 settlers, but over 2,000 would arrive in the next decade.

Mostly the immigrant could not read or write and had little or no knowledge as to the proper spelling, and their names suffered at the hands of the government officials. The early town records are full of these mis-spelt names most of which gradually changed back to a more conventional spelling as education progressed. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.

Here is some more family history on Scott's grandfather, Clytis Theriault.
Slee Surname History

Slee Meaning:  A cunning or crafty individual.

The surname of SLEE was an occupational name 'a maker of sleighs'. The name was derived from the Old Norman SLAEGR and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Walter Sleh, who was recorded in 1219 in County Essex. Thomas Sleh was recorded in 1221 in County Oxford, and Ralph Sly appears in 1273 in County Kent. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monastries, gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name.

Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Other instances of the name mention John le Slegh, 1333, County Yorkshire, and John Slee of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. William Slay of County Lancashire was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1560.

At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped and flowing garment worn over the armour.

The origin of badges and emblems, are traced to the earliest times, although, Heraldry, in fact, cannot be traced later than the 12th century, or at furthest the 11th century. At first armorial bearings were probably like surnames and assumed by each warrior at his free will and pleasure, his object being to distinguish himself from others. It has long been a matter of doubt when bearing Coats of Arms first became hereditary. It is known that in the reign of Henry V (1413-1422), a proclamation was issued, prohibiting the use of heraldic ensigns to all who could not show an original and valid right, except those 'who had borne arms at Agincourt'. The College of Arms (founded in 1483) is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.

The earliest recorded entries of people bearing the name Slee are of Walter SLEH in 1219 on the Feet of Fines in Exeter, Devonshire and Stephen del SLE on the Essex Hundred Rolls in 1274. It was very common in the 13th Century to use by names and other extras particularly those of French influence such as del and la. There was never an exact date when people started using hereditary surnames. It was coming into fashion around the time of Norman the Conquer in 1066 but evidence shows that only a handful of the upper tier landowners followed the trend. It became more common between 1250 and 1350 with other landowners taking on surnames. However because nothing was formalised it was not uncommon for one man to have two or three surnames in one life time.

It appears that the SLEE name has two histories, one in the north and one in the south. The northern SLEE's of Cumbria have an Nickname based surname which means cunning and clever and was most likely given as an accolade by the Lord by whom they were employed for the excellent work they did, while the topographical SLEE's from Devonshire in the south were quiet hardworking country folk.

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