This famous English and Scottish name is of Old French/Norman origin, introduced into Britain by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. There has always been some uncertainty about the source of the name, but there are two accepted interpretations, the first of which is derived from the Old French term "maltalent", in Anglo-Norman French "mautalent", translating as "bad temper", and ultimately from the Latin "malum", bad, and "talentum", inclination, disposition. This was used as a nickname for someone considered to possess an ungracious or discourteous manner. Secondly, the surname may be locational in origin, from a place called Mautalant in Pontorson, France, so named from its "ungiving" unproductive soil. The earliest examples of the locational surname are recorded in Scotland, where one Gilbert de Maltalent was a charter witness circa 1215. The modern spelling of the name, Maitland, results from contracted pronunciation and folk etymological use of the common topographical element "land". The Maitland family who have held the title Earl of Laudersdale since 1624 have occupied their ancestral seat, Thirlstane near Lauder in Cumberland, for over seven hundred years. Maitlands have long distinguished themselves as lawyers and statesmen, and also in the naval and military services of Britain: John Maitland (1616 - 1682), second Earl and first Duke of Lauderdale, and a notable statesman, became the virtual ruler of Scotland in the mid 17th Century, and was a long-time companion and favourite of Charles 11. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Maltalant, which was dated 1170, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northumberland", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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