This unusual and interesting name is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. It is a metonymic occupational surname for a maker or seller of cheese, a "cheese-wright", and is derived from the Old French "fourmage", in modern French "fromage", cheese. The Old French occupational terms "fromagier" and "formagier" have also given the modern surnames Firminger, Ferminger, Furmenger, irminger and Firmager; Henry Furmagier is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Kent of 1198. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and gradually became hereditary. One Luke Formage is mentioned in the Somersetshire Assize Court Rolls of 1280, and Henry Firmage is listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk of 1524. The surname is found particularly in East Anglia, in such forms as Furmage, Furmedge and Firmage, and examples from Church Registers include: the christening of Susan, daughter of Edwarde Firmage, at St. Michael Coslany, Norwich, in Norfolk, on February 25th 1689, and the marriage of Simon Firmage and Mary Baker on September 16th 1592, at Eriswell in Suffolk. The family Coat of Arms depicts three gold leopards passant on a blue bend, on a gold shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Herbert Furmage, which was dated 1160, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", 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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