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Merritt Genealogy and Merritt Family History Information

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About the Merritt surname

Merritt This unusual English surname, found in the modern spellings of Merrett, Merritt, Merriott, Merit, Merioth, Meriott, Meritt, Meryett, has at least two possible origins. The first and the one most generally applicable to modern day West Country bearers of the name is locational, from a place called "Merriott" in Somerset. This placename, although in fact the surname recording precedes it, is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Meriet" and translates as "the gate at the boundary". This probably refers to an old parish boundary, or possibly something more specific like a "portcullis" which formed part of defensive wall. The word derives from the pre 7th century Olde English "(ge)maere", meaning boundary and "geat", a gate or bar. Those nameholders that do not derive from this source have a patronymic or more likely metronymic origin. In this case the derivation is from one of two medieval personal names. The first is "Mariot", a diminutive of "Mary" and the second "Meryet", from the Olde English and Norse Viking "Maergeat", meaning "Famous people". This was the tribal or clan name of the ancient people to which the legendary "Beowulf" belonged. Early recordings of the surname include Ralph Meriet in the 1202 rolls of Lincoln, John Meryet in the 1316 rolls of Warwickshire, and John Meryatt in the court rolls of Colchester, Essex, in the year 1375. The coat of arms most associated with this surname was granted in London in July 1666. It has the blazon of a barry of six in silver and black, overall a bend ermine. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hardinus de Meriet, which was dated 1084, in the Geld Roll of the county of Somerset, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087, 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.