This most interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a topographical name for a "dweller by the long stone or menhir". The derivation of the name is from the Breton "men", stone, and "hir", long. A menhir is a single standing stone, often carved, dating from the middle Bronze Ages in the British Isles and from the late Neolithic Age in Western Europe. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. The surname was reintroduced into England by the French Huguenots. During the mid to late 17th Century thousands of French Huguenots fled to England and other countries, to escape religious persecution on the Continent, especially after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes by Louis X1V in 1685. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Mennear, Menier, Menure and Menere, to Meneyer, Meneer, Manhare and Menear. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the christening of Arnold, son of John Mener, on October 24th 1585, at St. Katherine by the Tower; the christening of Madelaine, daughter of Jonas and Elisabette Menier, on November 4th 1610, at Threadneedle Street French Huguenot Church; and the christening of Mara, daughter of Samuel and Susanna Menear, at St. Mary's, Marylebone Road, on March 27th 1825. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elizabeth Manhare, which was dated October 22nd 1560, christened at St. Mary Somerset, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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