This long-established surname has two possible sources, each with its own origin and derivation. Firstly, it may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, from a nickname for a merry or sporty person, derived from the Middle English "gamme", amusement, pastime, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "gamen". Secondly, Gammon may be of French origin (a diminutive of Gambe), derived from the Anglo-Norman French "gambon", ham, itself from a nickname for a person with some peculiarity of the legs or gait, from the Norman-Picard and Provencal form of the Old French "jambe" (Late Latin "gamba", from the Greek "kampe", bend, joint, knee). The first recording (see below) is from this source, and the first recording of the name from the Anglo-Saxon source is that of Richard Gamen, in the 1251 Feet of Fines of Essex. A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames; these were given with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, or mental and moral characteristics. An interesting namebearer, recorded in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was James Gammon (fl. 1660 - 1670), an engraver of portraits now valued for their rarity. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Gambun, which was dated 1209, in the "Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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