This most interesting surname is of French origin, and is a metronymic form of the female personal name Catherine, thought ultimately to derive from the Old Greek word "katharos", pure, clean. The first known bearer was the 4th Century St. Katherine of Alexandria, who according to legend was an Egyptian princess so learned that she confounded the arguments of all the wise men of Egypt with her defence of Christianity, for which she was put to death. The name was introduced to Europe by the Crusaders and became widespread in England in the 12th Century in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, from the Old French "Caterine, Cateline and Catharine". The first reference to St. Katherine in England is in a miracle play performed at Dunstable in 1100. Catherine, which is also found as Catlin and Catling (surnames) has never lost its popularity as a female personal name since its introduction, and was a particular favourite among royalty. Robert Caterin was recorded in the Assize Court Rolls of Bedfordshire in 1247, and Robert Catylin was mentioned in 1441 in Sheffield records. Johanes Catherins married Joanna Willms on July 2nd 1576 at Westminster, while Richard Catherine married Mary Griffen on July 14th 1767 at St. Clement Danes, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Catelin, Katelin, which was dated 1198, in the "Feet of Fines of Norfolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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