Recorded in several forms including Armitage, Ermitage, Hermitage and the dialectals Emptage, and Emtage, and possibly others, this unusual and long-established surname is of early medieval French and English origins. It is either a topographical name for a dweller by or in a hermitage, given as being a solitary place in which lived a holy man, and deriving from a Latin word "eremita", or a locational name from any of the various places such as the village of Armitage Bridge, near Huddersfield, in West Yorkshire, both in England and France. 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. They were also names given to either the local lord of the manor, or as a means of easy identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. Early examples of the surname recording include Hugh del Hermytage in the Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire in 1296, and John de Armitage, in the charters of the city of Sheffield, Yorkshire, in 1423. On January 6th 1549, Johannes Hermetage was christened at Kirkburton, Yorkshire, whilst Edward Emptage married Ann Sims at St Brides church, Fleet Street, on July 2nd 1610, and Ann Emtage married Jeremiah Foule at The Temple, both city of London, on March 4th 1679. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Ermitage, which was dated 1259, in the Assize Court Rolls of Cheshire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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