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. Recordings of the name from Church Registers include the marriages of Edward Musgrove and Margerie Dickenson at Aston Juxta Birmingham, on October 20th 1591, and of Dannell Musgrove and Jonne Griffin at St. Katherine by the Tower, London, on October 24th 1613. A Coat of Arms granted to a Musgrove family of Kent depicts on a white shield, two bendlets engrailed azure between three lozenges, one and two, of the last, each charged with a gold fleur-de-lis; the Crest is a demi lion proper gorged with a double collar gemelle sable and holding between the paws a lozenge azure charged with a gold cross crosslet. The Motto "Nil Desperandum", translates as "Never despair". 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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- http://www.stirnet.com/genie/data/british/mm4fz/musgrave3.php (membership required to view without interruption)