Recorded as Lickorish, Licorish, Licquorish, Liquorish and possibly others, this is a very interesting medieval English nickname surname. The word 'liguorish' was French and was used to describe 'a sweet person', - one good enough to lick! However it must also be said that given the robust humour of the Middle Ages, it may have been sarcastic and if so meant the absolute reverse. The word was an introduction by the Norman invaders at the conquest of 1066, and it is later quoted by both Chaucer and Robert Burton. In Chaucer the sentence appears in the Canterbury Tales as ' ...to fulfil all thy lickerous talent,' whilst Burton in circa 1605 states ' ...a proud peevish flirt, a liquorish, prodigal queen'. He was addressing himself to the memory of the late Queen Elizabeth 1st, shortly after her death. Was he being sarcastic or truthful? If sarcastic, the new king James 1st would have quite liked the tone because he had lost his mother Mary, Queen of Scots, to the axe of Elizabeth. Early examples of the surname recording in the surviving church registers of the city of London include Abraham Licoris at St Botolphs without Aldgate, on November 5th 1594, Edward Lickorish at St Andrews Holborn, on January 22nd 1609, and Elizabeth Licquorish at St Botolphs without Aldgate on March 11th 1711. It is unclear when the first recording of the name took place, but it was almost certainly before the year 1300, and may appear in as yet unpublished or unresearched records. 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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