Recorded as Quartermain, Quartermaine, and Quarterman, but over the centuries including a much wider range of spellings as shown below, this is an English surname of arguably French origins. It certainly derives from the old French word "quatre" meaning four, and "main," a hand, and as such was probably a descriptive nickname for skilled man, one who seemed to have four hands, given his dexterity. If so the term was introduced into England after the famous Norman-French Conquest of 1066, when subsequently for three centuries French became the official language of England although the native English or Saxons as they were generally known, continued to speak their former language of Old English.This surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century as shown below, whilst examples in the Pipe Rolls of Oxfordshire include Herbert Quatermayns in 1230, and Clare Quatremayns in the Hundred Rolls of 1273. In the surviving early church registers of the city of London we have that on April 12th 1640 of Robert Quartermaine, the son of Anthony Quartermaine, who was christened at the church of St. Vedast, Foster Lane. The surname also appears as Quartermain and Quarterman. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robertus Quatuormanus. This was dated 1187, in the records of Merton in Oxfordshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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