This surname is an interesting example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were given with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, or to habits of dress and occupation. The derivation, in this instance, is from the Middle English and Old French, "palmer, paumer" (from "palm, paume", palmtree), originally denoting someone who had been on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Such pilgrims generally brought back a palm branch as proof that they had actually made the journey. A quotation from a medieval writer, Scott, reads, "The faded palm-branch in his hand, Showed pilgrim from the Holy Land". In the modern idiom there are several spelling variants including Palmar, Paumer and Paumier. Early examples of the surname include: Wiger le Palmer (Lincolnshire, 1191) and Richard le Paumere (Middlesex, 1198). John Palmer, aged 18 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Primrose" bound for Virginia, in July 1635, was one of the earliest recorded namebearers to settle in America. A Coat of Arms granted to the Palmer family in 1586, is a silver shield, thereon two bars sable charged with three trefoils slipped of the field, in chief a greyhound passant in gold. The crest being a greyhound and on the breast a trefoil and the Motto, "Palma virtuti" translates as, "The palm to virtue". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sagar Palmer, which was dated 1176, in the "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire", 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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