I think that the most obvious origin of our surname is that our ancestors constructed "hedges" to divide agricultural land into convenient fields. Identifying an individual by his trade was probably what started surnames in the first place as the population increase and Christian names became too vague (a bit like having to have extra digits in a phone number). Thus we have, Thatcher, Miller, Tanner, Smith etc. The other method was to have "son of" added to the Christian name as in "John's son", "Michael's son" etc.
I have a Hedge Coat of Arms which was bought for me many years ago and consists of 3 Swans' heads that have been "ripped" off their bodies. I was told that my ancestors were "thieves and robbers" hence the insignia. The Swan is a Royal bird and the penalty of killing one used to be death. The significance of the "ripped" heads instead of neatly severed ones, I assume is that great, great grandad couldn't even afford a knife so was a pretty hopeless vagabond anyway!
My family originates in the English Midlands (Staffordshire) and were coal miners. I spent my youth in Kent, England and now live in Victoria, BC but have a brother living in Torquay, Devon.
For anyone who might be interested, the 1901 British Census is now on line and can easily be accessed for a nominal fee.
I hope this information is of some use to someone.
Peter J. Hedge
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