This intriguing name, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is derived from an occupational name for a wool-comber; wool-comber being, a process akin to wool-carding, which was traditionally a feminine occupation, like for example, spinster, and is originally the feminine form of Camber. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "camb", comb, and could also apply to a person who made or sold these implements. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. A prayer to the Commons in 1464, respecting the importations of foreign goods, mentions "the makers of woollen cloth within this rename as weavers, fullers, dyers, kempsters, carders, and spinners", and Chaucer writes "hir brighte heer was kempt, untressed all". Recordings from English Church Registers include the marriage of William Watts and Elizabeth Kempster in Canterbury, Kent, on 1684, and the marriage of Richard Kempster and Susanna Chips in 1747, at St. George's, Mayfair, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnes Kembestere, which was dated 1252, in the "Ramsey Abbey Rolls", Huntingdonshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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