Recorded in the spellings of Millbank, Milbank and Mealbank, this locational surname may not be what it seems. It probably derives not from the phrase 'Mill on a (river) bank', but from a much older pre 7th century description 'meol-bank' meaning - a sand bank, or more probably a sandy bank, as in 'Millbank' villages in Yorkshire and Kent, which are situated in areas where there is a lot of sand. In fact logically in medieval times when the bible was studied and followed to the letter, nobody would have built a mill on a sand bank, and arguably one could say that logically all 'mills' were built on an earth bank or raised platform of some kind, and therefore nobody would remark upon this fact. This type of locational surname was usually given to people after they left their original village and moved elsewhere. 'Elsewhere' may be the next village only a mile away, but the preponderance of all surnames recorded in London suggests that for many people this was the 'mecca' to which they headed. Early recordings include John Millbank and Margaret Lane who were married at Canterbury Cathedral, kent, in 1685, and John Gardner and Elizabeth Milbank, who were married at St George's chapel, Mayfair, London, in 1804. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Isabell Mealebanke, which was dated April 16th 1621, married at St James church, Clerkenwell, London, during the reign of King James 1st of England and V1 of Scotland, 1603 - 1625. 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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