This unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from a place thought to have been situated in Lancashire, but which is now 'lost'. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets in Great Britain are known to have disappeared since the 12th Century, due in part to natural causes such as the 'Black Death' of 1348, but in the main to the widespread practice of 'clearing' villages to create sheep pastures the 14th Century boom in the wool trade. The placename was 'Marklew', derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'maerc', boundary , with 'hlaew', hill; or perhaps the second element is a river name, similar to the 'Lliw' in Wales or the 'Lew' in Devon, named from a Celtic word meaning 'bright, shining'. The modern surname can be found as Marklew and Martlew. One Peter Martlew married Jane Brighouse at Ormskirk, Lancashire, in December 1657. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Martlew (christening), which was dated 15th February 1654, Croston, Lancashire, during the reign of The Commonwelth, Oliver Cromwell, The Great Protector, 1649 - 1658. 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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