Recorded in many forms including: Masse, Massard, Massart, Masselin, Massel, Masserel, Masserelle, and the anglicised Masurel, this is a surname of French medieval metonymic origins. The "Dictionnaire etymologyque de France" describes it as being occupational, and a short form of "masse d'armes" meaning a mace bearer. The alternative spellings including the suffix el or in, are diminutives or double diminutives meaning "the son of the macebearer" or "the son of the son of the macebearer". Perhaps a quarter of all surnames were originally occupational, although many did not become hereditary unless as with this surname, the son or grandson followed in the fathers footseteps. As a result the diminutive and double diminutive spellings are often more popular than the base name. French church records are at best erratic, and often non existent. Many, indeed the majority, were destroyed during the famous Revolution of 1792 - 1796, when for a number of years the Catholic Church, which under the various kings was the only legal expression of religion, was totally banned. When found the church registers were burnt by the Revolutionaries who claimed that they were tools of the hated secret police. However with this name we have been firtunate to find a number of early recordings which have survived. These include Paul Massaret, whose son also Paul was christened at Sedan in the department of Ardenne, on October 17th 1593, Caterine Marie Masserel, the daughter of Joseph Masserel, christened at Xarmes, Meurthe-et-Moselle, on January 6th 1765, and Rene Masse, who married Felicitie Taude, at Allone, Maine-et-Loire, on July 10th 1781.
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