This is one of the great Welsh names, both as a surname and much later, a personal name, but one of uncertain etymology. It is first recorded in the 9th century with Merfyn Frych, or Mervyn, the freckled, King of Gwynedd in North Wales. In those days names of kings rapidly became popular with the populace if only for reasons of poliitical correctness, but for some reason this did not happen with this name. It was not until the time of King Edward 111 of England in the 14th century that the surname became recorded in the Hereford area. There is a suggestion that the name was brought to Wales by a Manxman, and is not really Welsh at all. This might explain its earlier lack of popularity, but we cannot prove this either way except to say that it does not appear in the list of early Manx names. The ancient deeds of Hereford include the recordings John Mervin in 1348 and Hugh Mervyn of Brecon in 1525. Perhaps surprisingly it was only in the late 19th century that the name began to be used as a personal name in any numbers. One of the first being Myrfyn Thomas of Cardiff, who died on October 31st 1979.
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