Recorded in many forms including Neame, Neem, Neames, Nemes, Nelm, Nelmes, and others, this is an English surname. It is a fused spelling of the Olde English pre 7th century residential description 'atten elm' and hences describes somebody who lived at a settlement near an elm wood, or possibly a very distinctive elm tree. The surname could also be locational from two places called Elm in the counties of Somerset and Cambridgeshire. The place in Cambridgeshire was first recorded as "Alm" in the famous Anglo-Saxon chronicles for Essex in the year 656 a.d, making it one of the earliest surviving British records of anything. The village in Somerset was first recorded as "Telma" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The surname was one of the very first introduced into the new American Colonies, when one Richard Nelme embarked from London on the ship "Matthew" bound for Virgina in May 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Benedict de Elme. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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