The famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in the year 1880 suggested that this quite rare English surname, actually meant what it said. If so it is pre-medieval in origin, was possibly introduced into England at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066, and a derivation of the French word "descampen." This meant literally a person who had no fixed abode, however in the British Isles it was generally accepted as being a nickname for a male, probably a young man, who was "a bit of a lad"! Nicknames form one of the largest of the surname groupings, and it is generally estimated that 15% of all surnames, were originally nicknames. These were given for many reasons, and are unique in often being the opposite of what would seem to be suggested. As a good example Little John or John Little, was the largest of the outlaws in the famous group lead by the legendary Robin Hood. This surname recorded as Scamp, Scampe, Skam, Skamp, Skaimes, Scemp, and possibly others, is well recorded in the surviving early registers of the city of London from at least Elizabethan times. The earliest of these recordings is probably that of the exotically named Taulbutt Scamp, at St Andrews Holborn, on March 27th 1586, and John Scemp and his wife Mary at St George in the East, Stepney, on February 11th 1734.
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