This interesting and unusual surname is a diminutive of James, which has its origins in the Hebrew given name "Yaakov", Latinized first as "Jacobus", and in Late Latin as "Jac(o)mus". The meaning of the name has long been disputed; it is traditionally interpreted as coming from the Hebrew "akev", heel, but has also been interpreted as "he supplanted". Both of these meanings are influenced by the biblical story of Esau and his younger twin brother Jacob; Jacob is said to have been born holding on to Esau's heel, and took advantage of Esau's hunger to persuade him to part with his birthright "for a mess of pottage". The form James is now treated as a separate name from Jacob, largely because in the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611), the form "James" is used in the New Testament as the name of two of Christ's apostles. The personal name was not widely used in England until the accession of James Stuart to the English throne in 1603. One John Jemmett married Elizabeth Morris on March 26th 1627, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter James, which was dated 1187, in the "Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire", 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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