of the Name
Recorded as Wemyss, Weems and Wemes, this is an ancient and noble Scottish surname. It is locational or territorial from the estate known as "The lands of Wemyss" in the county of Fife, and according to certain sources the meaning of the surname is "The caves". What is certain is that it has been recorded since early medieval times, at the very beginning of the creation of surnames, with Michael de Wemyss being a charter witness on behalf of the abbey of Arbroath in the year 1202. Sir David Wemyss was the ambassador to Norway in 1286, chosen it is said because he had some grasp on the language. However the family fell foul of King Edward 1st of England in 1306, when Sir Michael Wemyss chose to side with Robert, The Bruce, against the appointees of Edward, known as "The Interregnum Government". It seems that Sir Michael must have entered into an agreement previously with Edward 1st, which he felt compelled to break. In the long term this does not seem to have done the nameholders any harm as by the 14th century the clan had achived nobility status being known as "Wemyss and all that Ilk". Alternative spellings of the surname made their varied appearance over the centuries including Weems and Weemes being recorded in 1597 whilst as Oysmes the name is recorded in the Scots Guards of the king of France in 1550.