As with many Old English personal names such as 'Alfgar' composed of the disparate elements 'aelf', elf, and 'gari', spear, most double-barrelled names are the result of a marriage between two families, where the resulting name has no overall meaning, but the separate elements have their own meaning and derivation. In this instance, the name Surman is of Medieval English origin and is a metonymic occupational name for a preacher or public speaker, or perhaps a nickname for a person with a tendency to be verbose. It derives from the Old French 'sermon', meaning speech or discourse, and the surname is first recorded in the Curia Rolls of Hertfordshire in 1212. The surname Wells is of Anglo Saxon origin, and can be either topographical or locational, from Wells in Norfolk or Somerset and derives from the Old English 'well', 'wiell', or 'waell' meaning well, spring or stream. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Toke de Wells, which was dated 1177, The Norfolk Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, 'The Builder of Churches', 1154-1189. 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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