According to the International Genealogical Index, this very interesting surname is recorded as Mainhood, Manhood, Manhoode, Manhud, and Minehead. If so the spellings would suggest that it in spite of its appearance it is English and is not a medieval nickname, but is locational, and probably from the town of Minehead in the county of Somerset. This may well be the case as the early recordings of the place name which predate the Norman Conquest of 1066, include spellings such as Mynheafdon in the Saxon rolls of 1046, Maneheve in the famous Domesday Book of 1086, and as Manhewed in the Assize Rolls of the county in the year 1225. The place name means 'hill-hill' from the Ancient British 'mynydd' meaning hill, and the later pre 7th century Olde English 'dun' also meaning hill. From the place name spellings it is easy to see how the later surnames of Mainhood and Manhood could have developed, as well as Minehead itself. Furthermore locational surnames were often 'from' names. That is to say names given to people after they left their original homes to move somewhere else. Spelling over the centuries being at best erratic, and local accents very thick, lead to the development of 'sounds like' forms. In this case the surname is not apparently recorded in Somerset at all before the 19th century, although it is a regular in the surviving church registers of the city of London from Elizabethan times. These recordings include Oswald Manhood who married Joane Higgins at St Giles Cripplegate, on July 8th 1593, Robert Minehead, who married Elizabeth Peke, at St Benet's church, Pauls Wharf, on October 27th 1711, and Joseph Mainhood, who married Elizabeth Smith, at St Katherines, Coleman Street, on April 7th 1844.
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