This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name for someone who lived in a house situated at a border of some sort. The derivation of the name is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hemm", border (used in a much wider sense than the modern English "hem") with "hus", house; hence "house on or near the border". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.A variant form of the name, "Hems", was used specifically in the West Midlands as a regional name to denote someone who lived in the border county between England and Wales. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century (see below), and can also be found as Hemues, Heamus, Hemos and Hemas. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Elizabeth Hemus and Robert Hinton on November 11th 1656, at Alcester, Warwickshire; the christening of Ann, daughter of Robert Hemus, on October 12th 1683, at Kings Norton, Warwickshire; and the marriage of Hannah Hemus and Nathaniel Crisp in October 1716, at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Hemma, which was dated 1182, in "The Pipe Rolls of Shropshire", 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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