This distinguished surname, with several entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", and having no less than twenty Coats of Arms, is of early medieval Scottish origin, and is a locational name from the historic city of Stirling, in the vicinity of which several famous battles; including Bannockburn (1314), were fought. Recorded in the 12th Century as "Stevelin", the placename is of obscure etymology, and probably derives from a British (pre Roman) river name; however, the final element may conceivably be the Old Scandinavian "lin", flax, hence "pastures where flax was grown". Locational surnames were originally given to the Lord of the Manor, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to settle elsewhere. Early examples of the surname include: Peter de Striuelin who witnessed a gift of the church of Karreden to the Abbey of Holyrood, c.1158; Thomas de Striuelyn, archdeacon of Glasgow (1228), and Sir John Stirling, who swore fealty in 1291. His seal bears a shield charged with six mullets of six points. Sir James Stirling (1740 - 1805), treasurer, and local provost of Edinburgh, was created first baronet Stirling in 1792. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a silver shield, on a black bend three gold buckles, the Crest being a swan's head and neck issuing out of a ducal coronet proper. Buckles in armory are considered ancient honourable bearings, and signify Victorious Fidelity in Authority. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbertus de Striuelin, who witnessed King David's gift of Perdeyc to the Church of Glasgow, which was dated 1136, in the "Episcopal Registers of Glasgow", during the reign of David 1 of Scotland, 1124 - 1153. 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.