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Family spelling variants includes Jameson, Jameson, Jamieson, Jempson, Jemmett, Jacques, Jeakes, Jacklin, Jackson, Jakes, James
James Family History
The origins of the name James lie in the Hebrew personal name 'Yaakov' which was later latinised as Jacobus, then during the Dark Ages as Jacomus, before evolving into James. Its popularity in the UK derives in the main from references to it in the Bible, in particular the New Testament where it is the name of two of Christ's apostles.
Its origins as a name in the UK therefore are patronymic, and as such appears to be slightly more common in Wales than in England.
In Wales it would have become a settled, hereditary surname between the 16th and 19th centuries.
In England, when the name developed into a settled surname – much earlier than in Wales – the most common forms became Jameson, Jameson, Jamieson, Jempson, Jemmett, and possibly through its French form, Jacques, to Jeakes, Jacklin, and Jackson.
An early bearer, Walter James was first recorded in 1187 Pipe Rolls in Gloustershire, during the reign of King Henry II (1154 – 1189).
It became more frequent in 1881, when James was one of the top occurrences in the Bristol, Gloucestershire. In the same year, the most common James occupation in the UK was Farmer, along with Coal Miner and Agricultural Labourer. A less common occupation for the James family was Labourer. In 1891, the frequency in England and Wales was recorded at 67,500 with fewer occurences of 834 in Scotland.
The name is geographically common around the world, including South Africa’s Jameson Park. Similarly, the UK has a Jameston and several Jamestowns. Canada and US also have Jamestowns with a total of 18 locations that are name related.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
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