This interesting and unusual surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a locational name from some minor or unrecorded place perhaps a "lost" village. There are an estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from Britain since the 12th Century; the prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool-trade in the 15th Century, and natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The original place is believed to have been situated in Lincolnshire, because of the large number of early recordings in that region. The derivation of the name is from the Old French "mont", hill, and the Anglo-Norman French "castel", castle, fortified building or set of buildings, especially the residence of a feudal lord; hence, "castle on the hill". In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Moncastle, Muncastle, Montcastle, Mountcastle and Munkcastle. Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Elizabeth Mountcastle and Alexander Woodall on May 26th 1685, at St. Martin's, Lincoln, and the christening of John, son of John and Margarett Mountcastle, at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London, on February 1st 1673. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of George Muncastle, which was dated January 25th 1566, marriage to Elizabethe (surname not given), at Fiskerton, Lincolnshire, 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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