This interesting surname, with variant spellings Jervis, Jervois(e), Gervase and Gervis, derives from the Norman male given name "Gervase", itself a compound of the Germanic element "geri", spear, plus a second element of uncertain origin, but believed to mean "vassal", hence, "spear-vassal". One Geruasius Painel was noted in "Documents relating to the Danelaw", Leicestershire, dated 1158. The surname first appears in the early 13th Century (see below). Other early recordings include: Thomas Geruais (Norfolk, 1230), and Stephen Gerveis (Cambridgeshire, 1273). The initial "J" takes precedence over "G" from the mid 14th Century. One Thomas Jerveys was noted in the Court Rolls of the Borough of Colchester, dated 1360, and a Johannes Jerwas in the 1379 Poll Tax Records of Yorkshire. In some instances the name may be of locational origin from a place in the North Riding of Yorkshire called Jeraulx of which the pronunciation was "Jarvis". One William de Gervaux was noted in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York, dated 1370, Charles Jervas or Jarvis, (1675 - 1739), painted portraits of George 11 and Pope, and translated "Don Quixote". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Geruas (note "U" for "V"), which was dated 1202, in the "Pipe Rolls of Shropshire", 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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