Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is a surname of English but ultimately Biblical origins. It was introduced into Europe by Knight Templars returning from the famous Crusades to free the Holy land in the 12th century. It rapidly became one of the most popular personal names, and slightly later surnames. Recorded in over sixty spellings and found throughout the Christian world, the biblical form was originally an Aramaic byname meaning 'The Twin.' It was borne by one of the disciples of Christ, best known for his scepticism about Christ's Resurrection. There are many dialectual variants of this name in all European languages, but in the British Isles they are usually Thom, Tom, Tume, and the patronymics Tomas, Toms, Tombs, Tonks, Tumes, Thomson, Tomson, and Thompson. Sir John Tomes, (1815 - 1895) who is recorded in the National Biography was the pioneer of modern day orthodontics. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Tom. This was dated 1245, in the register of the Hornchurch Priory, in the county of Essex, during the reign of King Henry IIIrd of England, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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