This surname of WEEMS is of territorial origin, from the lands of WEMYSS in Fife. The name has numerous variant spellings which include WEMYSS, WEMES, VEYMIS, VEMS, WEIMES, WEEMYSS, WEYMS and WYMES, to name but a few. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. The first known of the name was Michael de METHKIL, who was variously called by that title or by that of de WEMYS. In the beginning of the thirteenth century Michael de WEMETH witnessed a charter, and in 1268 Michael de WEMYS witnessed a gift of the lands of Lamabride to a William de Moray. Sir David WEMYSS was chosen ambassador to Norway in 1286. Sir Michael WEMYSS rendered homage (in feudal law it was a formal and public acknowledgement of allegiance to feudal superior and dutiful reverence) in 1296, but ten years later his possessions were singled out by Edward I for special savage treatment, when it was ordered that his lands and gardens must be 'burnt, destroyed and stripped' because Edward 'has found neither good speech or good service in him'. From 1759 to 1776 there was a constant flow of emigrants from the Highlands to North America. Between 1763 and 1775 alone, it is estimated that about 20,000 Highlanders left Scotland for the New World. Highland emigrants in their new American homes freely wore the highland dress, and were not forbidden the music of the 'piob-mhor' which was at that period prohibited in the Highlands by Government as a 'weapon of war'. On the outbreak of the American War in 1775, not only were the Highlanders in America loyal to their mother-country, but they raised a regiment in her support (the 84th Royal Highland Emigrant Regiment). At the conclusion of the war, the Highlanders, resisting all offers made to them by the new nation, crossed the border and settled in Canada.
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