This ancient Anglo-French surname recorded in the spellings of Palmer, Palmar, Paumier, and the dialectals Pymar, Pymer, and Pimer, is a nickname. It is an interesting example of that 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 Middle English and 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, as shown below. Other 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 yrs., who embarked from London on the ship "Primrose" bound for Virginia, in July 1635, was one of the earliest recorded settlers 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 is a greyhound. 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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