Recorded in many forms including Bass (English and Scottish), Bas and Lebas (French), Bassi, Basso and Bassano (Italian), de Bas (Dutch), Bajo (Spanish), and many others, this is a surname of originally Latin (Roman) origins. It derives from the word 'bassus' meaning broad and thickset and was a descriptive nickname, ostensibly for somebody of that description, but given the sardonic humour of the Middle ages, quite possibly the reverse! The second possibility for some nameholders is that it could be occupational name for a fisherman, as with the surname Herring. Medieval job descriptions were generally specific, although it is difficult to imagine that people lived by selling or catching only one type of fish. However if this was the case the derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "baes", meaning bass. Lastly, if Scottish the name may be locational from a place called Bass in the Grampian region of Scotland. In this case the place name derives from the Gaelic word "bathais", meaning front or forehead. Early examples of the name recording include Osbert Bars in the pipe rolls of Gloucester in 1205, whilst Andrew de Bas of Aberdeen was a juror there in the year 1206. A notable namebearer, listed in the "Dictionary of National Biography", was Michael Thomas Bass (1799 - 1884), a brewer, who was an active social reformer, and M.P. for Derby. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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