This interesting surname is a variant of Elm, which is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is topographical name for someone who lived near an elm tree or in an elm grove. The name is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500), Old English pre 7th Century "elm", elm: the "s" added to the end of the name is the genitive case meaning "of the elms". The surname could also be locational from two places so called, in Somerset and in Cambridgeshire. The place in Cambridgeshire was first recorded as "Alm" and "Elm" in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles for Essex of 656, and the place in Somerset was first recorded as "Telma" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The modern surname can be found as Elm, Elm(e)s and Nelm(e)s. An interesting namebearer was one Henry Lonsdale Elmes (1813 - 1847), who was an architect; he designed St. George's Hall in Liverpool in 1836, and the county lunatic asylum at West Derby. He died in Jamaica. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Benedict de Elme, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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