The surname of DAMMS was a Dutch topographic name for someone who lived by a dike, especially one built to keep out the sea. The name was originally derived from the Latin word 'dam'. The Dutch language is most closely related to Low German, and its surnames have been influenced both by German and French naming practices. The preposition 'van' is found especially with habitation names, and the 'de' mainly with nicknames. The name is also spelt DAM, DAMMS and DAMME. The name was brought into England at an early date and Petrus dil Dam was documented in County Norfolk in 1273. Robertus de Dam of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379, and Johannes de Dam appeared in the same document. Robert atte Dam de Wrotham, was the vicar of Griston in County Norfolk in 1409. Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name.
Later instances of the name include George, the son of Thomas Dam and Fillis, his wife, who was baptised at St. Thomas The Apostle, London in 1679, and Anne Damme of Chipping, was recorded in the Lancashire Wills at Richmond in 1680.
A notable member of the name was Carl Peter Henrik Dam (1895-1976) the Danish biochemist. He was professor at Copenhagen (1923-40) and in 1940 went to the United States where he taught at the University of Rochester. He shared the Nobel prize for physiology and medicine in 1943 with the American biochemist Edward Doisy.
The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. (Damme)
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