This ancient and unusual surname found in the 'modern,' spellings of St. Pierre, Saintpierre, Sanper, Semper, Samper, Samber, Simper and Sember, has a wholly French origin. It derives from the Village of St.Pierre de Semilly in La Mauche, Normandy, and is an excellent example of how the inhabitants of Medieval England often anglicised the foreign names. As the Latin 'Sanctus Petro' or French 'Saint Pierre', the name was an introduction after the 1066 invasion, although rather strangely, the first person known to be associated with St. Pierre, that is to say he came from the original village in Normandy, was Geoffrey de Clinton, Chamberlain to King Henry 1 (1100 - 1135) did not carry the name. Amongst the early recordings were those of Richard de Sempere of Northumberland in the 1270 pipe rolls of the county, Nicholas de Seyntpierre in the Close Rolls of Edward 11 in 1326, Simon Saunper in the 1345 Assize register of Stafford, Ralph de Seynpere in the Derbyshire charters of 1371, and Vrian Seintperee in the Wills register for Yorkshire in 1419. Later recordings include John Semper in the Derbyshire Will register of 1466, whilst Richard Semper, also recorded as Richard Sentpyer, appears in the Close Rolls of 'Philip and Mary'in 1554. This was during the short and apparently inglorious reign of Philip of Spain and Mary 1 of England, better known if rather inaccurately, as 'Bloody Mary' (1554 - 1558). The coat of arms granted in Chester in the reign of Edward 111 has the blazon of a silver shield, charged with a silver bend and a label of three points. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ricardus de Sancto Petro. which was dated 1256, the rolls of the Assize Court of Northumberland. during the reign of King Henry 111, known as 'The Frenchman', 1216 - 1272. 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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