This interesting and rare name is of French origin and is the Anglicization of the French surname Mascau, thought to have some association with the French word 'masque', meaning a mask. Maskew, Mascoe or Mascau, was introduced into England in the mid 16th Century (see first recording below) with the large numbers of Huguenot exiles, escaping Religious persecution in France, who settled in Britain, during the 16th and 17th Centuries. The Coat of Arms for Mascau is listed in Rietstap's General Armory, as a blue shield with a severed hand clad in chain mail holding an upright sword. Amongst the sample recordings in London are the christenings of Jeanne Mascau on December 13th 1629, and Marie Mascau on January 12th 1634, both at the French Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, and Mary Maskew in December 1613 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Sendeloo Maskoo, which was dated June 12th 1562, St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, 'Good Queen Bess', 1558-1603. 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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