This interesting name is of medieval Norman-French origin and is the English form of the Norman female given name Emma. Emms in this instance is therefore a metronymic (from the mother). Emma is of Germanic origin, apparently a pet form of various women's names with the first element "ermin", meaning entire. In the modern idiom, the variants include Em(m)et, Emmot, Emmitt, Emmatt, Hemmett, Emeline, Emlyn, Emblin(g) and Emblem. The name was adopted by the Normans, who also introduced it to England; unusually this was before the Conquest of 1066 and occurred when Emma, daughter of Richard, Duke of Normandy, married, first King Ethelrede the Unready in 1002 and later King Canutt in 1017. In England the personal name was popular from the 11th Century on in the forms "Em" or "Emm". John Emme appeared in the Hundred Rolls of Oxford in 1279 and John Emms was christened on November 15th 1661 at St. Botolph's Bishopsgate, London. Empson, Emson and Emmison are all metronymic from "Em(m)", unusually in that they have developed from the name of the first bearer's mother; most European surnames are patronymic. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Emms, which was dated 1274, The Hundred Rolls of Shropshire, during the reign of King Edward 1st, "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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