This is a patronymic i.e. "son of Samway", itself deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Samwis", from "sam", half, plus "wis", wise, and originally given as a nickname to a simple, unschooled person. The surname was first recorded in the 14th Century, (see below). The variant spellings Samwyse, Samwaye(s), Samweyes etc., are particularly well recorded in London Church Registers from the mid 16th Century. On May 26th 1559 John Samwyse, an infant was christened in St. Michael's, Bassishaw and on November 12th 1576 Thomas Samweyes and Margaret Goldsmith were married in St. Stephan's, Coleman Street. On April 15th 1673 Hester Samways was christened in St. Mary's, Colechurch. A Coat of Arms was granted to the Samways family of Devonshire. It is quartered, black and gold (1st and 4th quarters) with three crosses and three martlets. The second and third quarters are silver with three red molets or knight's spurs, and an equal number of lion's heads. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Damwis, which was dated circa 1350, in the "Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds", Northamptonshire, during the reign of King Edward 111, known as the Father of the Navy, 1327 - 1377. 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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