This very interesting surname is of Old French origin, and is thought to have been introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. It derives from the male given name 'Clement', itself adopted from the Latin 'Clemens', and meaning 'merciful'. The original popularity in England from the mid 12th Century on, was due to the (re-discovered) fame of St. Clement, a disciple of St. Paul, and because a number of popes selected the name Clement for its symbolic values. Early examples of the personal name recordings include 'Clemens' in 1153, in the Records of St. Benets Abbey, Norfolk, and 'Clemens filius Clementis', in the Curia Regis rolls for Essex in the year 1212. William Clement as a surname is recorded in the 1275 Hundred Rolls of Norfolk, whilst Richard Clemence is listed in the Huntingdonshire Hundred Rolls of 1279. The many spellings of 'Clement' showing its great medieval popularity, range from Clem, Clemas, Clemes, Clements, Clemon(t)s, Clemetts and Clem(m)ens, to Clemence, Climance, Clemen(t)son and Clemerson, and the Cornish Clemo, Clemow, Climo, Clymo, and many others. Amongst the interesting recordings associated with the surname are Thomas Clements who was one of the early emigrants to the American Colonies, leaving London on the "Abraham" in October 1635, bound for Virginia. The coat of arms was granted in Plymouth in 1620. This has the blazon of a silver field, two red bends wavy, and on a red chief, three gold estoiles. The crest is a gold griffin on a green mount. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robertus Clemens, which was dated 1155, in the Knight Templars rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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