Recorded in several spellings including Kemp, Kempe, and the patronymics Kempes, Kemps, Kempson, and Kemson, this is an early and distinguished English medieval surname. It is or rather was, occupational, originating from the pre 7th century Olde English word 'cempa or kempa.' This was used to describe a professional horse soldier, probably a mercenary, one who sold his ability to the highest bidder. Depending on his level of achievement as a jouster, a kempe could be ranked as a noble or even the royal champion.talents as a champion and in the Middle Ages became occupational to describe a professional horse soldier or jouster or perhaps an athlete, wrestler or bowman. The recording of Eadulf Cempa appears in the Old English Byname Register as early as the year 902, although the name was purely descriptive, it being over three hundred years before surnames as we know them today became the accepted hereditary form of identification. Earlt examples of church recordings taken from surviving register in the city of London include Elizabeth Kempson, who was christened on May 18th 1584, at St. Botolph, Bishopsgate; and the marriage of Rhode Kempson to Henry Vincent, on April 24th 1616, at the church of St. Christopher le Stocks. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Richard Kemson. This was dated 1379, in the Poll Tax Returns of the county of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 11nd of England, 1377 - 1399. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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