This unusual and intriguing name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is an example of that interesting group of early surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of bynames or nicknames. These were originally given with reference to a variety of personal features, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, and mental and moral characteristics. In the case of the name Shemmans, the derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century term "sciming", translating as "the fair one", a derivative of "scima", bright, used as a nickname or byname for someone with very bright, shining hair, or for someone considered to be particularly attractive, fair of face. Roger Scymming is recorded in the Cambridgeshire Hundred Rolls of 1279, and one Richard Shymmyng is listed in the Minister's Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall in 1297. The modern surname forms range from Shimmin(g)s and Shimmin to Shemmin(g) and Shemmans, and recordings from various Church Registers include, the christening of Alice, daughter of Thomas Shemans, at Ratcliffe Culey, Leicestershire, on April 13th 1606, and the christening of Joseph, son of William and Hannah Shemmans on July 9th 1833, at Ansley, Warwickshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Schemmeng, which was dated 1279, in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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