This unusual and interesting name recorded in several spellings including Mellersh, Mellish, Melluish and Meluish, is almost certainly from the village of Melhuish, in the county of Devonshire. This village was named from the pre 5th century Olde English "mael" meaning brightly coloured, or covered in flowers, plus "hiwisc", a measurement of land, large enough to support a family of four. However there are other interpretations. It is claimed that in some instances the name may be a variant form of the occupational surname Miller or Meller, itself of pre 8th century Anglo-Saxon origins. This is a development of "mylen(e)" to mill, plus the agent suffix "-er", implying one who works. Secondly it could be a locational surname from the village of Mellis in Suffolk, and recorded as "Melles" in the Domesday Book of 1086, this name also means mill. Finally the name may be of ancient Gaelic origin, either Scottish or Irish. In this case it derives from an Anglicized form of the personal name "Maol Iosa", meaning a follower or devotee of Jesus. However all the very early proven recordings are from Devon, and these include John de Melwis and Elinora de Melhywys in 1273, whilst rather later, Nicholas Mellersh was a witness at Ashtead, Surrey, on January 28th 1551. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of William de Melehywiss, of Chagford, Devon, in the year 1272. This was in the last year of the reign of King Henry 111 of England, 1216 - 1272.
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