Recorded in many forms including Church, Churcher, Churchers, Churches, Churchouse, Churchus, Churchyard, and Churchman, this is an English surname. It derives from the Old English pre 7th Century "cyrice" meaning "church", (ultimately from the Greek "Kyricaon", house of the Lord), and was originally given either as a topographical name to one resident by a church or as an occupational name to an official in charge of a church. The surname from the former source first appears on record in the latter part of the 13th Century, (see below). Other early recordings include Robert Atte Chyrche, (Norfolk, 1273), and Stephen Church, (Kent, 1292). John atte Chircheyerde of Staffordshire in 1298, and Henry of the Chirche recorded in "The Register of the Freemen of York City", dated 1368, were most likely vergers or sextons. In some specific instances the name may be locational from Church in Lanchashire. A notable namebearer was Richard William Church (1815-1890), Dean of St. Paul's, 1871-1890, and leading member of the high church party. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Attechirche, which was dated 1275, "The Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Edward 1, "The Hammer of The Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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