This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a topographical name for someone who lived by or in a marsh. The derivation of the name is from the Olde English pre 7th Century "mersc", marsh, low poorly drained land that is sometimes flooded and often lies at the edge of lakes or streams. 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. Henry del Merse is noted in the 1212 Curia Regis Rolls of Yorkshire, and William atte Mersche is listed in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Marsh, Mars, Mersh, Mash and Ma(r)shaman. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Henry Mersh and Ann Heame on June 11th 1635, and the christening of Thomas, son of William and Anne Mersh, at St. Benet Fink, on November 5th 1638. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family is a shield divided quarterly red and silver, in the dexter chief quarter a silver horse's head couped, the Crest being out of a red mural crown a silver horse's head ducally gorged gold. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Godard le la Merse, which was dated 1194, in the "Pipe Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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