This is an English surname of antiquity and nobility. It is the hereditary surname of the Earls of Guildford, and during the 18th century was amongst the most prominent in the world's political circle. It has several possible origins. It could simply describe a person who came from the north (of England), but this seems unlikely as the name is prominent in the North country, as are the surnames West, East and South. The most logical explanation is that it was locational from a "lost" medieval place called North in the county of Norfolk, or from one of the more than a hundred places which include North in their title. Other possible explanations are that it was residential for a person who lived to the north of a town or village, or that it was nationalistic and probably sarcastic, describing a Norseman, literally a man from Norway. What is certain is that the name has been well recorded since the very beginning of surnames in the 12th century. These early recordings include John de North in Cambridge in 1257, William North of Sussex in 1296 and Agnes Bynorth in the rolls of Essex for the year 1301. Amongst the many important name holder was Brownlow North (circa 1580), one of the first translators of books, and Frederick North, Second Earl of Guildford (1732 - 1792), and most commonly known as Lord North. He directed the policy of King George 111rd which directly lead to the loss of the American Colonies in 1776. The coat of arms granted to the family has the blazon of a blue field charged with a gold lion passant, between three silver fleur de lis, signifying victory over the French. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Aylmar del North. This was dated 1230, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.