Long before Shakespeare penned this oft-quoted rhetorical phrase, our Camp-Kemp ancestors were born, lived, worked, married, raised families, died and were buried in the cities and hamlets, and by the shores and shires of 'Old' England, and perhaps before that, in Holland, France or even Germany.
This article is a compilation of the all the published research that I've come across regarding this important topic as it relates to the origins of our family identity. It will cover the entymology of the surnames our ancestors bore and the reasons for its evolution with the gradual rise of literacy. Careful analysis will yield some insightful conclusions.
Left: The 'Camp' Coat of Arms from "The CAMP BULLETIN."
|From "The Camp Bulletin," Vol. I, Number 2, August 1924, published by The Camp Association, we read on page 1:|
"Wherever the Roman legions pitch[ed] tents, the surname 'Camp' sprang up, sometimes de Campos, Campe, Kempe, Kampe, and de Campe.
Burk in 'Peerage and Baronteage of the British Empire' says:
Sir Robert Kemp was created Baronet March 14th., 1641. His seventh heir in direct descent was Sir Benjamin, a familiar name, and his son was Sir William.
Kempe is the Celtic rendering of the French Campe from the Latin Campus.
In the old English 'Hundred Rolls' or rolls of villages that could furnish at least a hundred fighting men, are found these records:
|Continuing on page 2 are hints on some Camp-Kemp pre-English ancestors:|
"Sharing the ubiquity of the name Johannes Campe was a noted scholar in Brunswick, Germany in the 18th Century. Even today, teaching is the profession most followed by the Camps.
Lawrence Camp, Gentleman, of the Jamestown Company was a wealthy draper."
|This allusion to Lawrence Camp is the first reference to an apparent member of our direct line, to be revisited further down the page. Continuing the review of pre-English ancestors:|
"In a work, the alien immigrants to England is a fac simile of the patent granting protection by King Edward III, 1055 A.D. to John Kempe, who seems to have been a capitalist in the weaving business. He was granted the right to come to England from Flanders with a large company of workers to establish the weaving industry. The name was the Germanic form of Camp.
Campes from Normandy and Picardy [SW France] settled in Flanders.
Many valuable records were destroyed in the great London fire  but it is recorded that William Campe married Mary Farmer in 1584. They were supposed to have been parents of Lawrence, Richard, Nicholas, and Thomas Camp...."
From the public records and information presented in this section of the 'The Camp Bulletin,' one could deduce the following informed theory on our Camp(e)-Kemp(e) family identity:
Most know how the ancient Roman world covered western Europe to Hadrian's Wall in England, scattering countless encampments across the terrains of Italy, Spain, France (Gaul), and England. These frontier soldiers would marry into the local populations. Over time they and their families take on some form of the surname 'Camp' as an occupational cognomen, for example, John de Campe, meaning 'John of the Camp.'
Some of these French Gaul 'Campes' living in the southwest regions of Normandy and Picardy are known to have settled in Flanders, a major city in Holland (The Netherlands). One of these very successful owners in the weaving guild, a John Kempe, is then allowed by Edward III around 1055 to come to England and establish a weaving industry.
Burk's Reference on British Peerage cites among others, Essex County, England as a long-time home of the 'Campes,' where extent records place William and Mary Farmer Campe, and their sons. One of these sons is Lawrence Campe, a 'wealthy draper.'
Lawrence Campe's 16th-century family, also being entreperneurs of the weaving industry would make him a likely descendant of the 11th-century John Kempe who first brought his weaving concern to England. This is also borne out by Burk's references to other notable Camps-Kemps throughout this period, including a bishop, archbishop, baron, and sheriff, etc., evincing the family's ancestral prominence in this area.
The article goes on to show that this wealthy draper Lawrence Campe became an investor in both the Jamestown and Virginia Companies who financed exploration and settlement of the New World in exchange for large land grants in Virginia. Since there is no record of Lawrence Camp's marriage or heirs, it is presumed that the Thomas Camp [I] who settled Lawrence's seven hundred acres in Virginia was his nephew.
This Thomas Camp (b. c1660, England) was the father of:
This is the famous immigrant line of three Thomas Camps - grandfather, father, and son - from whom descend eldest son, Edward Camp/Kemp (1739-1834) and his son, our Nathan Camp/Kemp (1774-1857).