The surname of ELMER was a baptismal name 'the son of Aylmer' an ancient and popular font name, now forgotten. The name was derived from the Old English word 'Aeoelmar' meaning 'battle-famous' and Ailmar (without surname) listed in the Domesday Book as a tenant-in-chief, appears to be the first of the name on record. Godwinus filius Elmari, was documented in the year 1115, and Ailmerus le Bercher was recorded in Berkshire in the year 1208. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. Other records of the name mention Eylmer filius Sirich, 1273, County Oxford. Elmericus de Besye, was documented in the County of Suffolk, ibid. Walter Elmer was documented during the reign of Edward 111. (1327-1377) and William Elmar of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Richarde Carter and Cecily Ellmar were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1574. Surnames before the Norman Conquest of 1066 were rare in England having been brought by the Normans when William the Conqueror invaded the shores. The practice spread to Scotland and Ireland by the 12th century, and in Wales they appeared as late as the 16th century. Most surnames can be traced to one of four sources, locational, from the occupation of the original bearer, nicknames or simply font names based on the first name of the parent being given as the second name to their child. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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