The surname of FARMER was an occupational name, the farmer, one who cultivated the land. The small villages of Europe, or royal and noble households, even large religious dwellings and monasteries gave rise to many family names, which reflected the occupation or profession of the original bearer of the name. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Following the Crusades in Europe in the 11th 12th and 13th centuries a need was felt for an additional name. This was recognized by those of gentle birth, who realised that it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Early records of the name mention William le Farmer, 1279 County Lancashire. Thomas Fermour was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Johannes Spenser Firmarius Farmer, was also listed in the Poll Tax of 1379. John Farmer married Elizabeth Randall, St. James's Church, Clerkenwell, London in 1575. Francis Farmer and Mary Wilson were married at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in the year 1722. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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