Recorded as Kemston, Kemstone, Kempston and Kempstone, this is a medieval English surname. It is locational and almost certainly from either of the two villages called Kempston, in the counties of Bedfordshire and Norfolk. The Bedfordshire village is recorded as Kemestan in the Anglo Saxon document register of the year 1060, during the reign of King Edward the Confessor, (1042 - 1066). It is claimed that the name derives from an Old English word kambo meaning crooked, with the suffix of -tun meaning a farm or small settlement. Certainly the modern village is situated on a bend of the River Duse so this would seem to be correct. Kempston in Norfolk, recorded as Kemestuna in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, is said to derive its name from the pre 7th century Old English personal name Cymi. This may be a form of 'cempa' meaning a warrior or horse soldier. Recordings of the surname taken from surviving church registers of the city of London, the earliest and most accurate of such records include Francis Kemstone. He was a christening witness at St Margarets Westminster, on May 11th 1582, whilst Ann or An Kempstone married Andrew Baker at St Peter's Cornhill, on June 26th 1606. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Richard Kemson. This is dated 1379, in the Poll Tax Register for the county of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 11nd of England. He was known as Richard of Bordeaux, 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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