Recorded in the British Isles as Tom, Toms, the diminutives Tomkin, Tompkin, and the patronymics Tomkins, Tompkins, Tomkinson and Tompkinson, this is a surname of biblical and crusader origins. It derives from the Hebrew name Tomas, meaning twin as in twin brother, and was first introduced into Northern Europe by crusader knights returning from their various exploits to free the Holy Land in the 12th century. 'Tomas' is recorded world wide in over two hundred spelling forms including Tommasi, Toma (Italian), Thom, Thomas, Thoma, Thumm, and Thome (German), the Slavonic Tomaschek, the Russian Fominov, the Belorussian Tomich and Khomich, and the Swedish Thomasson. Although born by St. Thomas, one of the early Christian disciples, the name was rare in ancient times, and found as a priest's name only. Its later popularity throughout Europe followed the murder of Thomas a' Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury, England, in 1170. The first examples of the surname recordings taken from authentic rolls and registers of the medieval period include: Richard Thome of York, in 1293, Walter Thomas of Warwickshire, in the Hundred Rolls of 1301, and Dieter Thumm of Wolfschlugen, Germany, in 1327. The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is believed to be that of Henneko Thom. He is recorded as being a burger of Hamburg, Germany, in the year 1252. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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