This most interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin. It derives from a nickname given in the first instance to someone who had played the part of the "Ivy-maid" in traditional Christmas festivities. These games, in which the Holly-boy and Ivy-maid led rival groups, were maintained in the county of Kent, though later held on St. Valentine's Day, until the close of the 18th century. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Olde English "ifig", meaning ivy, with "maegeth", a maid, frequently contracted to "mey" in Middle English, and applied to both boys and girls, as evidenced by the recording of Martin le Yungemey in the Hundred Rolls of Sussex in 1273. A number of medieval surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames, often given with reference to a part played in a pageant or miracle play, or traditional seasonal celebrations. These "pageant" names include Greenman, King, Pope, Knight, and Queen. The surname is recorded in many forms including Ivimy, Ivamy, Ivemey, Ivimey and Ivermee, and is found predominantly in the southern counties of England, notably Dorset and Hampshire. Hustyce Ivemay was christened at Sturminster Marshall, Dorset, on November 7th 1597, James Evemy was a christening witness St St Lukes Finsbury, in the city of London, on Devember 14th 1774, and the marriage of William Ivimy and Ann Sparks was recorded in Wymering, Hampshire, on February 27th 1775. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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