This unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is either a topographical name for someone who lived on an area of land inhabited by monks, or a locational name from some minor, unrecorded, or now "lost" place. The derivation is from the Middle English "munk, monk" (Olde English pre 7th Century "munuc, munec", from the Late Latin "monachus", Greek "monakhos", solitary, a derivative of "monos", alone), with the Middle English "felde" (Olde English "feld"), open country, plain, land free from wood. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared in Britain, largely as a result of the enforced clearing of rural settlements to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade from the 15th Century on, and also due to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The surname, with variant spellings: Mounckesfeilde, Muncksfeilde, Moncksfeld and Monkfield, is recorded in London Church Registers from the late 16th Century. On May 8th 1568, Margerye Moncksfeld, an infant, was christened at All Hallows the Less, and on January 21st 1594, Edward Muncksfeilde was christened at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster. The marriage of William Monksfield to Mary Birch took place at St. George's, Mayfair, on August 2nd 1748. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Rici Monkesfeild, which was dated January 15th 1567, witness at the christening of his daughter, Agnes, at Marshfield, Gloucestershire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "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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