The surname of WILLMOTT was a baptismal name 'the son of William'. Wilmot was used as a font name for both sexes and lingered on as a girl's name in Cornwall, until the close of the last century. The name is also spelt WILLIMOTT, WILLMET, WILMOT and WILMUT. Early records of the name mention Williametta Cantatrix, 1273 County Cornwall. Wylymot Swynhird of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Baptised. Willmott, daughter of Robert Edwardes at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1592. An eminent member of the name was John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester born in 1647. He was the English courtier and poet, born in Ditchley, Oxfordshire. He was educated at Burford school and Wadham College, Oxford. He travelled in France and Italy, and then returned to court, where his good looks and lively wit made him a prominent figure. In 1667 he married a wealthy heiress, Elizabeth Malet, and plunged into a life of debauchery. Finally he repented, and died in 1680. Henry Wilmot (1612-58). Younger son of 1st Viscount Wilmot of an Irish family. Served in the Dutch army 1635-40, then Commissary-General of the royal army; captured at Newburn in 1640. Expelled from the Commons in 1641 for complicity in the second Army Plot. He distinguished himself at Roundway Down and Cropredy Bridge, but was disgraced in August 1644 and went abroad, but eventually found favour with Charles II with whom he went on the run for six weeks before they regained the contingent. Charles II became a close friend and he was created Earl of Rochester in 1652. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification.
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