This very interesting name is often erroneously believed to be of continental origins when in fact, it is pure North Country old English. It derives from the elements "Massing" meaning (literally) "Brassy" plus Beard, and was believed to be a nickname given to one with a tawny beard and Scandinavian appearance. The origin probably dates back to the 8th Century when the sight of a "viking" was less than pleasant to the English and Anglo-Saxons, and presumably in therefore, derogatory. Eitherway the surname itself was popular enough to develop several spelling identities, sample recordings include - Magdale Messing-Beard (1595), Thomas Massingberd (1596). Elizabeth Massinberd of Northampton (1681) whilst Ursula Massenbird was recorded at Askam Bryan, Yorkshire on August 12th 1751. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osward Massyngbeard, which was dated November 16th 1579, married Marcy Cleverye at St. Dunstans in the East, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, "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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