This distinguished surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and a locational name deriving from a pair of villages near Kirkby Stephen in Westmorland, called Great and Little Musgrave. The early settlement is recorded as "Musegrave" in circa 1215, and as "Magna" and "Parva Musegrave" (Great and Little) in the "Records of Pleas" of 1292. The placename is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century elements "mus", mouse, or the Old Norse byname "Musi", with "graf", grove, thus "grove frequented by mice", or "Musi's grove". A number of English placenames contain "mus" as a first element, including Musbury (Lancashire), "mouse-burrow", and Muscoates (Yorkshire), "mouse-infested huts". Early examples of the surname include Roger de Mussegrave (1277, London); Thomas de Musgraue (1362, Yorkshire), and John Mosgrove, listed in the University of Oxford's Register for 1581. Among the recordings of the name in Yorkshire Church Registers are the marriage of John Musgrave and Alice Byrkehead at St. Peter's, Leeds, on May 14th 1583, and the christening of Thomas, son of Wm. Musgrave, at Snaith, on August 21st 1583. The Coat of Arms granted to Sir Thomas Musgrave in the reign of Edward 111 (1327 - 1377) depicts six gold annulets, three, two and one, on a red shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan de Musegrave, which was dated 1228, in the "Curia Rolls of Northumberland", 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.
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