Recorded in over twenty forms including Mait, Mate, Maith, Matt, Matte, the patronymics Mates, Matts and the Scottish Mathes and Mattys, this is a surname of medieval French origins. It is an affectionate or nickname style of Matthew, a name introduced into the British Isles at or just before the Norman Conquest of 1066. In later years such was the popularity of Matthew, that it ranked fourth in popularity behind William, John, and Richard, and a whole series of quite distinct patronymic surnames originated from it. These include Matthewman, Matthewson, Mathieson, Mattingson, and Mattimoe. Matthew originates from the ancient Biblical name Mattathiah translating as 'The gift of god', a description which probably did little harm to its success. In France in the 10th century it was latinised as Matthaeus, and later Mathieu - the spelling form first recorded in England. The famous Domesday Book of 1086 gives a number of examples of the name although none are surnamesThese were not recorded for about another two centuries. Examples of early surname recordings taken from surviving church registers of the city of London include Thomas Mait who married Mary Toner at St Dunstans, Stepney, on May 8th 1561, Susan Mayte who married John Hadocke at St. Andrews by the Tower (of London) on March 8th 1614, and Robert Mates, christened at St Botolphs Bishopgate, on August 10th 1684. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Matte. This was was dated 1275, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Warwick, during the reign of King Edward 1st, known to history as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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