This interesting and unusual surname has two possible origins, topographical and locational, both of which are associated with Northumberland. Firstly, it may be from a topographical name, from the Anglo Norman French "sur", on, by (from the Latin "super" meaning on, over), plus Tees, the name of a river in the north of England, so called from an ancient British (pre Roman) word equivalent to the Gaelic "teas", heat, and probably used in the sense of a "boiling, surging" river; hence, "dweller by the Tees".The second origin may be a locational surname from a minor unrecorded, or "lost" placename in Northumberland, which is composed of these elements. The first recording of the surname comes from this source (see below). One Ralph Sur Teyse appears as a witness in the Assize Rolls for Durham, 1243. Robert Smith Surtees (1803 - 1864), a sporting novelist, started the "New Sporting Magazine" in 1831 in which he published the sketches of Mr. John Jorrocks, the sporting grocer, which were later published as "Jorrock's Jaunts" in 1838. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Randulf de Super Teise, which was dated 1174, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northumberland", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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