This unusual name is of Old German origin, from an occupational surname for a lay official of the church, an early church warden perhaps, or the bailiff or steward of a church's lands or estate. The original surname was usually found as 'Kir(s)chenmeier' (as below), composed of the Old German elements 'kirche', church and 'meior', later 'meier', village headman or similar official, later steward or bailiff. The surname development has covered a wide number of variant forms, some showing the influence of neighbouring countries who adopted the name, such as the Dutch or Flemish form of 'Kirimaa'. The variants include (in Germany): Kirchmeier (1611), Kirchmajer (1653), Kirchmayr (1661), Kirchmer (1687) and Kirhmayr (1715). An early form of 'Kirimaa' is found in the Rheinland: one Johannes Kiremer, son of Johannes and Veronica, was christened on August 17th 1762, in Graach. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hans Kirschenmeier (marriage to Anna Ringler), which was dated November 15th 1581, Donankreis, Germany, during the reign of Rudolf 11, 'Holy Roman Emperor', 1576-1612. 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.