This surname of HELMES is of three different origins. It was a topographic name for someone who lived or worked at a rough temporary shelter for animals. The name was originally derived from the Old Norman HIALMR, and was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066. The name is also of German origin, from a medieval given name HELMOND, and it was also an occupational name for a maker of helmets. 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. Early records of the name mention Nicholas de Helmer, who was recorded in 1180 in County Surrey, and William Helmiris appeared in 1279 in Berkshire. Hugh del Helmere was listed in 1327 in County Surrey, and William de Helmes of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
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