This unusual and interesting name is of early medieval English origin, and is from a nickname for a particularly masculine, virile man. The derivation is from the Middle English "male" meaning "masculine", from the Old French word "masle, madle", male, itself deriving from the Latin "masculus". A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, and to habits of dress. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Male, Males, Mayle, Mayell and Mayall. Males is the patronymic form, meaning "son of", or a dialectal transposition of the form Masle. Recordings from London Church Registers include: the christening of Nicholas Males on July 20th 1589, at St. Mary's, Whitechapel, and the marriage of Thomas Males and Jane Hartlebury at Shoreditch, in 1772. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert le Masle, which was dated 1187, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of the Churches", 1154 - 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.1189.
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