This unusual name is both English and Irish, although the origins are quite different. The English version derives from the Norman French 'juge', a word which did originally describe a Judge. However whether this was an occupational surname or a nickname for someone who had the (perceived) qualities of a judge, is unclear from the early recordings. Curiously the Irish 'Judge' surname holders also have a similar background, in that the development of the name is from the Gaelic 'Mac an Bhreitheamhnaigh' translating as the 'Son of the Judge'. A variation of the Gaelic is also found as the surname (Mac) Breheny or Brehany. This is an anglicised spelling, but not translation, whilst the Irish surname 'Judge' is a translated and anglicised form of the original Gaelic. Or is it? The confusion does not end there as some, possibly the majority of Irish nameholders do descend from English settlers of the 16th century! The early recordings include Thomas Judges (the plural form is patronymic) of Worcester in the Hearth tax rolls of Worcester for 1524, and Richard Judge of Montgomeryshire, a student at Oxford University in the year 1616. In Ireland Peter Judge of Meath was recorded in 1690, and may have played a part in the success of William of Orange. In 1774 his great grandson petitioned for the recognition of his coat of arms apparently granted, but not recorded at the earlier date. The arms have the blazon of a black field, charged with an ermine chevron between three silver escallops, the sign of the pilgrim. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam le Jugge, which was dated 1309, in the Middle English Occupation Register, Worcester. during the reign of King Edward 11, known as 'Edward of Caernafon,' 1307-1327. 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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