This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a regional name from the county of Somerset, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "Sumer(tun)saete" meaning dwellers at the summer settlement. During the Middle Ages when it was increasingly common for people to migrate from their birthplace to seek work further afield the custom developed that they would adopt the placename as a means of identification. The surname dates back to the early 13th Century (see below). Early recordings include: William de Somersete (1273) in the Hundred Rolls of Shropshire, and John de Somersete (1331) in the Calendar of Inquisitiones, Wiltshire. Variations in the spelling of the surname include: Somersett, Sommersett, Summerset, and Summersett. London Church Records list the marriage of George Somersett to Jone Rushbrooke on December 5th 1586 at Christ Church Greyfriars, and the christening of Christopher, son of Edward Somerset, on September 1st 1590 at St. James', Clerkenwell. A Coat of Arms granted to a Somerset family is blue, on a rock proper, a gold eagle rising between the Arctic in chief, and Antarctic polar stars in base, on a gold canton a wreath of green laurel, fructed proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walter de Sumerset, which was dated 1206, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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