Recorded in many forms including Margaret, Margett, Margott (England), Marguerite, Margeride, Margerit (France) Margarit (Catalonian), Margarita, Margaritelli, Margaritti (Italian), and many others, this is a medieval surname. Introduced into Europe by returning Crusader knights from the Holy Land in the 12th century and coinciding with the Christian Revival period, it derives from the Greek word 'margaretes'. This it is claimed is ultimately from early Persian and means "The child of light". Metronymic surnames, that is to say surnames from a female name rather than a male name, are quite rare.As to why they occur at all is interesting. They show that in medieval times and contrary to public opinion, women were often heiresses in their own right. Sons of these (married) women sometimes took their mothers name, rather than their fathers, possibly because the mother was the wealthier partner and had survived the longest. Amongst early recordings are Henry Margaret of England who appears in the Hundred Rolls of landowners of Cambridgeshire in 1273, whilst Hugh Margarete appears in the Hundred Rolls of Buckinghamshire for the same year. In Italy records are very much later. The country was divided into twelve states, most very poor, and not given to record keeping. Those that survive include Desiderio Margaritelli who married Domenica Antoniazzi at Costageminiana Bardi, Parma, on November 22nd 1769, and Flavio Margheriti baptised at Rome, on May 22nd 1888. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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