This interesting and unusual surname, recorded under the spellings of Armitage, Armytage and Hermitage, derives from the Middle English and Old French "(h)ermite", hermit, from the Greek "eremos", solitary, and was originally given either as a topographical name to someone who lived by a hermitage, sanctuary, or place of learning, or as a locational name from any of the places named with the above word. These places include Hermitage in Durham, Northumberland, Dorset, Berkshire and Sussex, and Armitage in Staffordshire. Early examples of the surname include: Hugh del Hermytage (Warwickshire, 1296); Willelmus del Ermytache (Yorkshire, 1379); and John de Armitage (Sheffield, Yorkshire, 1423). In April 1596, William Armitage, rector of Billingford, Norfolk, was noted in Ecclesiastical Records of that county. Most bearers of the name Armitage or Armytage can be traced back to a family living at Hermitage Bridge, in Almondbury, near Huddersfield, in the 13th Century, and it is in Yorkshire that the name is still most widespread. Early settlers in North America include; Henry Armitage, who left the Barbados Islands on the ship "Society" bound for Boston in March 1678, and Enoch Armitage of Wooldale, Yorkshire, who settled in America after 1677. The family Coat of Arms is red with a lion's head erased between three silver cross crosslets. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Ermitage, which was dated 1259, witness, in the "Assize Court Rolls of Cheshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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.