This interesting and unusual surname, recorded in Church Registers of Northern England from the mid 16th Century under the variant spellings Matterdale, Motherdale, and Mothersdill, is of English locational origin, from Matterdale, a parish east of Keswick in Cumberland. Recorded as "Matherdal" in the 1323, "Inquisitiones" of that county, the place was so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "maddre" related to Old Norse "mathra", madder (a climbing perennial plant, the root of which furnishes dyes and pigments), plus the Old Swedish "dal", (Old Norse "dalr"), a valley; hence, "valley where madder grew". On August 11th 1751, John Mothersdale, an infant, was christeded in St. Mary and St. Nicholas, Yorkshire, on March 24th 1752, and on January 27th 1788, Leanard Mothersdill and Ann Stabler were married in Over Silton, Yorkshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Edward Matterdale, which was dated October 13th 1559, marriage to Elizabeth Wilkinson, at Greystoke, Cumberland, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, 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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