Recorded as Mert, Merte, Mort, Morte, Mourt, Murt, Murte, with diminutives Mortel, Mortell (English), Mort, Morte, with diminutives Mortaux, Mortell, Mortin(French), Mortale, Mortara, Mortato, Morteo, (Italian), and others, this is a very unusual surname. It has at least three possible origins. The first is a medieval nickname from the Old French word "mort" meaning death. As such it refers either to an actor who habitually played the part of death in the famous travelling theatres of the period, or it may have referred to somebody who "looked like death", and had a a pale or sickly appearance! Secondly and at least in England a possible origin is a derivation of the ancient pre 7th century personal name "Morta," of unknown etymology, and found in the place name of Mortlake in Surrey. Thirdly it can be of locational origin from a number of places such as Morte Bank in Lancashire, England, or Mortagne in France or Mortola in Italy. This locational origin in England would seem to be confirmed by the high number of recordings of the surname in the county of Lancashire, where it is well recorded from at least Elizabethan times. Examples of church recordings include Edward Morte, a christening witness at Winwick, Lancashire, England, on October 18th 1565, Catherine Mort christened at Aizanville, Haute-Marne, France, on August 11th 1715, Matthew Murt christened at St Matthews church, Bethnal Green, city of London, on October 22nd 1822, and Emanuele Monteo who married Giovanna Risso at Genova, Italy, on February 17th 1867.
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