Recorded as Middle, Middell, Midell, Middler and possibly others, this is almost certainly a residential name. It is English, deriving from the pre 7th century word 'middel' and meaning either a place between two other villages, or a person (Middler) who worked in the centre of (probably) a town or village. Another possibility is that Middle could refer to a dry area or island on a marsh, in the days before the drainage of the fens and lying regions. However paradoxically the first recording we have is not residential - but apparently a nickname! This was Richard le Midel, who appears in the Hundred Rolls of the landowners of the county of Cambridge in the year 1279. Unless the le was a poorly written de, this recording is clearly personal, which would suggest that 'Richard' may have been one of three people, brothers perhaps, known as Bigg, Midel and Small, although Simon atte Middele in the Subsidy Tax rolls for the county of Somerset in 1327, clearly refers to a place of some sort. In today's gazetters of the British Isles there are literally dozens of places called Middleton or Middletown in the British Isles gazetters, although only one Middle, and that is in Glamorgan, South Wales. However the Rev Charles Bardsley in his famous Dictionary of English and Welsh surnames written in1880, refers to a hamlet called Middle near the town of Shrewsbury, although our research suggests that neither of these villages was a source of nameholders.
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