This unusual and long-established surname is of early medieval English origin, and is either a topographical name for a dweller by or in a hermitage, deriving from the Middle English "ermitage", Old French "hermitage", or a locational name from any of the various places named with this word. These places include: Hermitage in Durham, Northumberland, Dorset, Berkshire, Kent, Sussex and Surrey, and Armitage in Staffordshire. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages; locational surnames were originally given to local landowners, the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. One Hugh del Hermytage was recorded in the 1296 Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire, and a John de Armitage appears in a Descriptive Catalogue of Charters, Sheffield, Yorkshire, dated 1423. On January 6th 1549, Joha Hermetage was christened at Kirkburton, Yorkshire, and on December 27th 1604, the marriage of Mary Hermitage to Henry Faries took place at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a red shield with a lion's head erased between three silver crosses crosslet. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Ermitage, which was dated 1259, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Cheshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.
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