This ancient Anglo-French surname recorded in the spellings of Palmer, Palmar, Parmer, Paumier, and the dialectals Pymar, Pymer, and Pimer, is a medieval descriptive nickname. It is one of the sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of personal descriptions or characteristics. The derivation, in this instance, is from the pre 10th century Old French, "palmer or paumier", and derives from assumed or perhaps in some cases, actual, pilgrimages or crusades to the Holy Land. Such pilgrims, who often wore suits of armour and carried some very unfriendly weapons, generally brought back a palm branch as proof that they had actually made the journey. A quotation from a medieval writer reads, "The faded palm-branch in his hand, showed the pilgrim from the Holy Land". In its various spellings this was one of the earliest of all surnames. Early examples of the surname recordings include such as Wiger le Palmer of Lincolnshire in the 1191 rolls, and Richard le Paumere of Middlesex in the year 1198. Ricardus Palmer appears in the 1379 Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire, whilst Joseph Pymer was recorded in London in 1665, at the height of the 'Black death'. John Palmer, aged 18 years, who embarked from London on the ship "Primrose" bound for Virginia, in July 1635, was one of the earliest recorded settlers in America. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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