This French, Italian and English surname of AMENT was from the given name AMAND, originally rendered in the Latin form AMANDUS, meaning lovable. In some cases the name may also have been a nickname for a philanderer, and the Italian patronymic may refer obliquely to birth out of wedlock. The name was borne by a number of early Christian churchmen (abbots and bishops) in France and elsewhere, including a 5th century bishop of Bordeaux, and a 7th century bishop of Maastricht known as 'the apostle of the Netherlands'. The name is also spelt ALMAN, AMAN, AMANN and AMMON. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. Early records of the name mention John Ament who was recorded in 1216 in County Gloucestershire, and Henry de Alemania, was recorded in Nottingham in the same year. Willelmus Amman of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. Later instances of the name include John de Amann who was a varlet of the Countess of Surrey in the year 1583. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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