Recorded in a number of spellings including Malt, a short form or nickname, which may also derive from the womans name Maud, Malter, Maltman, Maltmaker, Maltster, Malthouse and Malthus, this is an English medieval residential or occupational surname. It describes a maker of malt, or somebody who lived at "the malt house", or even a malt merchant. As upto Victorian times most water was unfit to drink, the brewing of "small ale" was a very importrant part of the necessities of life. Even children drank beer, only the introduction of tea in the 17th and 18th centuries and the need to boil the water, created changing habits. Not surprisingly this is one of the earliest of hereditary surnames, and early examples taken from authentic Middle Age charters and rolls include: Hugh le Maltemakere of Berkshire in the year 1255, Fulk de Malthus of Sussex in 1297, and John le Malter, of Essex, in 1319. Comitessa Malt is recorded in the 1275 Hundred Rolls of Suffolk. She was a landowner in her own right, although whether her surname descends from Maud or Malt(er), is unclear. The first recorded spelling of the surname in any form is probably that of Ralph de Maleterr, in the Curia Regis rolls of Northumberland, in the year 1211.
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