This is an English medieval surname of occupational origins. It usually derives from the pre 7th century Olde English word "moethere", meaning one who mowed or who possibly operated a primitive form of mowing machine. The need for good hay and straw was of vital importance in medieval times, being used not only as animal feed in winter, but for thatching, and even bedding for humans. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and only later became hereditary when the same occupation was taken on by the son or grandson. In this case some namebearers may also descend from the Middle English word "madder", meaning a dark red dye obtained from plant roots, and hence a grower or seller of such dyes. Madder is also a surname in its own right, and the Mathers from this source it is said, are mainly to be found in South Lancashire. Early examples of the surname recording include: Adam le Madour of Lancashire in 1417, whilst Richard Mather (1596 - 1659) established the prominent family of Mather in the colonies of New England. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan le Mathere. This was dated 1249, in the Assize Court Rolls of the county of Warwickshire, during the reign of King Henry 111 of England, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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