Although it is of early medieval French origin, this is an English and Scottish occupational surname for a trader, or merchant. It derives from the Old French word "mercier" or "merchier", from the Latin "mercarius", as agent derivative from "merx, mercis", merchandise. The word may have been introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. During the Middle Ages the term was used particularly of someone who dealt in textile fabrics, especially the expensive and luxurious types of cloth such as silks, satins, and velvets. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The name was very early into Scotland, William Mercer witnessing two charters on behalf of the Abbey of Melrose in the year 1205, whilst Aleumnus Mercer, was bound over to keep the peace, as part of a bond between King Alexander 11 of Scotland, and King Henry 111 of England in the year 1244. Today there are a number of variant forms of the surname, these include Mercies, Marker, and Merchier(s). One family of the name "Merces" claim to trace their ancestry back to Thomas Mercer, who, in 1341, was empowered by Edward 111 to obtain money from the Constable of Bordeaux to raise troops in Aquitaine. Dorcas Mercer, aged 30 yrs., was one of the earliest colonists to the New World Colonies, embarking from London, England, on the "Assurance", bound for 'Virginea' in July 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gamel Mercer, which was dated 1168, in the "Pipe Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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