This very unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname from a place in Devonshire, so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "mael(e)", brightly coloured, flowery, and "hiwisc", hide of land, hence "a brightly coloured hide of land", or "a hide of land covered with flowers". The placename was first recorded as "Melehewis" in the 1273 Hundred Rolls of the county. Locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname was first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below), and modern variants include: Melheuse, Mellhewes, Melhuse, Mellhush, Mellhuish and Mellish. Recordings from Devonshire Church Registers include the christening of Anthony, son of William Mellish, on March 7th 1613, at Northam, and the marriage of John Mellish and Sarah Brembridge at Langtree, on December 12th 1691. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elinora de Melhywys, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Devonshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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