This famous surname is recorded in over two hundred and fifty different spellings ranging from Mathieu of France to Macieiczyk of Poland. From medieval times it has been recorded in every part of Christendom. Its popularity throughout Europe first as a baptismal name and then later as a surname dates from the 11th century when Crusaders, otherwise known as the "Knights Templar", returning from one of their many expeditions to the Holy Land, gave it to their sons in commemoration of the fathers (unsuccessful) attempt to free Palestine from the Muslims. The derivation is from the Hebrew male given name "Mattathiah" meaning "gift of the Lord", and it is recorded in the famous Norman-English Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Matthaeus' and in the French spelling 'Mathieu'. Neither of these recordings are surnames, but names of priests. Early examples of the surname recordings include Heinrich Matthaus of Uberlingen, Germany, in 1382, John Mathows of Whitby, England, in 1395, the patronymic Hugh Mathewman in the 1379 Poll Tax rolls of England, and a similar Clewi Mathisen of Freiburg, Germany, in the year 1475. Samuell Matthews was one of the earliest settlers in the New World of America. He is listed as 'living at the plantation by James Cittie' (Virginia), in February 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan Mathew, which was dated 1260, in the Assize Rolls of Cambridge, England. This was during the reign of King Henry 111, known by the nickname of 'The Frenchman', who reigned from 1216 to 1272. 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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