This ancient surname has been recorded in the Yorkshire area since 1755 (see below), but its origins may lie elsewhere. There are two probabilities, the first being a derivation from the Old Norse "mathra", or the Middle English "maedere", a reddish dye which was used in the manufacture of inks and paints, the surname describing one who made or used such products. The second possibility which could also account for the rarity, is as a derivation from the Polish "Maddrey", also found as Madre, Madra and Matros, given to a wise man or village elder, and well recorded in Germany. It is interesting that all the early English recordings occur in the Cawood area of East Yorkshire, this town, on the River Humber, being a logical point of arrival for people from the Continent. The recordings include: Wilhelmina Madre of Berlin Stadt, Germany, on November 30th 1750, whilst the English recordings include: Richard Maddrah, who married Ann Witheron at Cawood on December 24th 1768, and Elizabeth, daughter of Ralph Maddra, who was christened at St. Peter's Church, Leeds, on August 30th 1795. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Maddrah, which was dated March 31st 1755, marriage to Mary Thornton, at Cawood, Yorkshire, during the reign of King George 11, known as "The Last Soldier King", 1727 - 1760. 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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