This most interesting and unusual surname, chiefly located in the Cambridgeshire region, is a Dutch form of the German surname Hampe, which derives from the Middle High German personal name "Hampo", a short form of the compound name "Hamprecht", Old High German "Hagenberht", composed of the elements "hagano", hawthorn, and "-berht", bright, famous. However, the name may also have been given to someone who lived by the river Hamps in Staffordshire, which was recorded as "Hanespe", circa 1200 in the "Abstract of Burton Cartulary".This river name derives from "Hafhesp, Hamhesp", meaning summer-dry, referring to a stream that goes dry in the summer, which is a characteristic of the Hamps. Early recordings include Elena Ampe, in the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1273; the marriage of William Smeethe and Joanna Ampes in London, in 1567; the christening of Richardus, son of Richardi Ampe, at Harbury, Warwickshire, on August 5th 1559; and the marriage of William Amps and Elizabeth Athalona on May 29th 1660, in London. A Coat of Arms granted to an Ampe family in Holland depicts three silver collines, "posees en pairle", on a red shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elena Ampe, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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