In the medieval times, both in England and France, land disputes were often settled by armed combat. The French name for land is "champ", and the fighting was carried out by "Chamecons", professional knights who were paid fees of 10,000 in modern money to decide the outcome. In England the original spelling was "Campion", dating back to 1148, and this is a surname which still survives in its earliest form. However Champkin, Champken, and Champkins are rather late 'English' versions of the Huguenot protestant refugee name Champlin or Chamecon, not being recorded in England before the 17th century.They are unusual in any case, in that they have an English suffix diminutive in "kin", a word which can refer to almost any near relative, but which, in this case, is a "sounds like" form of the French suffix ending "-con". Early recordings include the following examples: Mary Champkin, who married William Wilson Friend at Hornsey, Essex, on September 13th 1775, and Charles Champkins, who married Mary Bryan at St. Bride's Church, Fleet Street, London, on September 15th 1788. On August 7th 1814, Mark Champken was a witness at Held Chapel, Southgate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Champkin, which was dated November 27th 1696, christened at St. Paul's Church, Canterbury, Kent, during the reign of King William 111 of Orange and England, 1689 -1702. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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