Recorded as Cumes, Cumbs, Cumbes, and a variant of the more commonly found surname Coombe or Coombes, this is a residential surname. It describes a dweller in a deep valley from the Old English pre 7th century word cumb, the later coomb, or deep hollow. As a surname Coombes or Cumbes, where the "s" means "of the valley", can be locational from any one of the numerous places which include the element cumb or the Welsh "cwm", or it can be topographical and as such denoted residence in or by such a valley. Places with "coomb" are popular in the West and South West of English, where there are many valleys of the type. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. An Elizabethan example is that of Elizabeth Cumbes who married John Warford on the 15th April 1583, at St. Dunstan's Stepney, in the city of London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de la Cumbe. This was dated 1194, in the "Fines Court Records of Sussex", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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