The origin of the Armitage surname
I have been in touch with George Redmond, historian and specialist in surnames, from Huddersfield. He has written a booklet called ‘The Armitages of Almondbury’, as well as other books on Yorkshire surnames. I quote from his latest Armitage research.
There is reference to a hermitage lying within South Crosland as early as c.1212, probably on land later granted to the Knights Templar. A dwelling house there came to be known as the ‘Hermytage’ (1382) and was the Armitage family home for several hundred years. The locality is now known as Armitage Bridge. The family name appears to have a single source in Yorkshire, but it ramified early in its history and is now prolific and widely distributed both in England and overseas. Even by 1545, when thirty branches of the family were listed in West Yorkshire subsidy roll, there were already Armitages close to Bradford and Leeds. (See also Hermitage)
1258 Richard de Hermitagio (Yorks Archaeological Series records)
1340 Adam del Hermitage (Crosland) (Duchy of Lancaster Rental records)
1429 Thomas del Hermitege (Meltham) (Yorkshire Deeds)
1513 Robert Hermitege (Almondbury) (Parish Registers of Kirkburton)
1545 William Armitege (Crosland) (Returns for Agbrigg and Morley)
Extract from Yorkshire Surnames Part Two, Huddersfield and District, by George Redmonds, 1992
With thanks to George for permission to include this extract.
George has good reason to believe, supported by some DNA testing, that all Armitages are descended from this single source in Armitage Bridge. This is a small village near Almondbury, and used to be part of the much larger Almondbury district from earlier times. I believe our branch of Armitages never moved from the Huddersfield area till the end of the nineteenth century, when Edward Armitage’s sister Edith emigrated with her husband to Boston, Massachussets in 1895.
Contributed by Sue Woodd, August 2011
This image was supplied by Peter Armitage and is a certificate of verification of the history of the name Armitage. (Click to enlarge)
This is what it says:
The English surname Armitage is toponymic in origin, belonging to that group of surnames derived from the place where the original bearer once dwelt. In this case the surname comes from the old French “ermitage”, meaning a “hermitage”, a small monastery or dwelling where a hermit resided. The original bearer would thus have resided “near the hermitage”, or was perhaps a labourer or lay servant at such a place. The name is also borne by a village in Staffordshire and by several farms in England which were originally situated near hermitages, which may also be the source of the surname. The form Armitage is the result of the northern dialectic pronunciation of “hermitage”, and the surname is common throughout Yorkshire and Lancashire. During the Middle Ages hermitages were not merely the places of solitude and contemplation that we think of today, but provided food and shelter, medical care, religious guidance and Mass for both travellers and local villagers alike, in return for alms, and featured strongly in mediaeval literature and romance. The surname is documented in the thirteenth century when one Richard de Ermitage is recorded in the Assize Rolls of Cheshire in 1259, while in 1296 one Hugh del Hermytage is noted in the “Place Names of Warwickshire”. In 1379 in the Poll Tax Returns of York we find one Willelmus del Ermytache, while in the 1423 Charters of Sheffield we note one John de Armitage. The surname was borne by the Barons Armytage of Kirklees and Milnsbridge in Yorkshire whose arms are illustrated below.
BLAZON OF ARMS: Gules, a lion’s head erased between three crosses crosslet argent.
CRESC: A dexter arm embowed couped at the shoulder, habited or cuffed argent, in the hand proper a staff gules headed and pointed or.
MOTTO: Semper paratus.
Translation: Always prepared.