Deriving from the biblical name Mattathiah, this is a surname recorded in over two hundred and fifty different European spellings. These include Mathieu, Mathe, Mattis (France), Mattea, Matteo (Italy), Matt, Mathe, Maith, Matthew, Mathew, Mathias (English & Scottish), Mateus (Portugal), Mato (Spain), Matthus (German), and many others. It was originally introduced (as a given name only) into Europe by priests and later and more popularly by Crusader knights returning from their varied and largely unsuccessful attempts over two centuries, to wrest control of the city of Jerusalem from the Muslims. Although these crusades failed, it did not stop both soldiers and pilgrims giving this name and many others, to their sons and daughters in commemoration of the father's efforts. Mattathiah translates as "The gift of the Lord", which contributed greatly to its popularity. It is first recorded in the famous English Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Matthaeus' and 'Mathieu', with both examples referring to monks or priests. The conversion of Christian names to surnames came after about the year 1220 with examples such as Heinrich Matthaus of Uberlingen, Germany, in 1382, John Mathows of Whitby, England, in 1395, whilst the patronymic Mathewman appears in the Poll Tax rolls of Yorkshire, England in 1379, and the similar Clewi Mathisen of Freiburg, Germany, in the year 1475. Samuell Matthews was one of the earliest settlers in the New World of America, and listed as 'living at the plantation by James Cittie' (Virginia), in February 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name probably that of Alan Mathew. This was dated 1260, in the Assize Rolls of Cambridge, England during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, who reigned from 1216 to 1272. 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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