This interesting surname is a metonymic or nickname surname taken from the occupation of cheesemaker. The more usual surname form is Cheeseman, although strictly speaking Cheeseman refers to the servant or manager of the cheese making, whilst "Cheese" is the big cheese himself! The origin is Olde English pre 7th century, although as the word is also very similar in the Saxon form as "cyse" it can arguably be from either source. What is beyond argument is that the name is one of the earliest surnames on record, and the occupation one of the most important of the pre-medieval trades. A coat of arms was granted to the Cheese nameholders of Huntington, Hereford, being a gold lion rampant on a blue field. This is an extremely noble blazon, suggesting close royal associations. The examples of the name recording commence with the mid 12th century, although it is arguable as to whether the first recording below is strictly a surname or a job description, clearly the second Latinised example is certainly not a surname, but no less interesting. These examples are Willelmus cum Frumento, in the 1176 pipe rolls of Yorkshire, and John Chese of Huntingdon in the 1279 Hundred Rolls of the county. This is most definitely a surname. Other examples are Walter Le Cheser is registered in Hereford in 1366, whilst later in Shakespearean times, Mary Chese is recorded as christened at the church of St Mary Bredin, Canterbury, on December 19th 1572. On October 11th 1646 at the same church appears the recording of Phebe Cheese. She married one Nicholas Moleny, and it would seem that thereafter the spelling forms remains as it is today - Cheese. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ailwin Chese, which was dated 1150, in the rolls of members of St Bartholomews Hospital, London, 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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