Recorded in various spellings including Meek, Meach, Meech and Meacher, this is an English and later Scottish surname. It is claimed that it was originally a medieval nickname surname for a gentle or self-effacing person, deriving from the Medieval English "meek" or the Old Norse "mjukr" meaning "humble" or "meek". However given the robust humour of the Middle Ages it is equally possible that the name may mean the reverse. In addition the spelling as Meacher or Meecher suggests an occupation, which may have been one of a professional mourner or pallbearer, one whose job was to comfort the grieving relatives. This is born out by the appearance of Robert le Meke in the Register of the Freemen of the City of York in 1303, whilst Alicia Meke, is recorded as being a "labourer" in the Poll Tax records of Yorkshire in 1379. The surname is recorded in Scotland from the mid 15th Century, with the earliest recorded namebearer being William Mek of Cowbyr in 1457. Some examples of the surname recordings taken from early surviving church registers include: John Meech who married Ann Waters at St Margarets, Westminster, on July 10th 1610, and Thomas Meacher, a witness at the church of St Katherines by the Tower (of London) on December 8th 1666. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Mek. This was dated 1229, in the Patent Records of the county of Somerset, during the reign of King Henry 111rd 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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