It is said that there are over twenty recorded spelling forms of "Mallalieu", and this is not perhaps surprising. Despite its "French" appearance, the name is almost certainly of Yorkshire - Lancashire origins, although deriving from Olde English and Celtic origins. It is most probable that the name is locational from "Moel - hlaw" or "Moel - Fre", and describes one who lived on a "bare hillside". However, the eminent Victorian etymologist Canon Bardsley, himself of Yorkshire origins, describes it as deriving from the ancient (Welsh) personal name "Meredith", and by dialectal transposition to "Mereydewe", one Thomas Mereydewe being recorded in the Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1379. The progression was thence to Melladew or Malladue in circa 1500, and to Malalew circa 1600. It is also possible, although no proof is offered, that the name may derive from a medieval oath, similar to Purdie from "Par - dieu", in this case "Mal - dieu", which would fit with Malladue. The "modern" spelling originates in the Saddleworth area of the West Riding of Yorkshire, and name recordings include Francis Mallalewe of Ashton Under Lyne, on April 6th 1657; Joseph Malalieu of Saddleworth, on September 8th 1663; and James Mallalieu of Kirkheaton, Huddersfield, on May 10th 1818. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Malalew, which was dated October 9th 1614, a christening witness at Saddleworth, Yorkshire, during the reign of King James 1 of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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