This surname MERCHANT was derived from the Old French 'marchaunte' the name given to a merchant, a trader. Occupational surnames refer directly to the particular trade or occupation followed by the first bearer of the name. These occupations can be divided into classes such as agricultural, manufacturing, retailing and so on. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today. Smiths, millers and wrights were indeed specialists, but even they would normally have their own smallholdings for growing crops and keeping a few animals. Others were simply designated as the servant of some person of a higher social status, as a maid or parson.It was brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of 1066, and Roger Marcand, recorded in the year 1202 in County Berkshire, appears to be the first of the name on record. Roger Mauchaunt appears in Yorkshire in 1219, and Ranulph le Marchand was documented in 1240 in County Essex. Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th until the 15th century. They had not been in use in England before the Invasion of William the Conqueror in 1066, when they were introduced into England by the Normans. They themselves had not long before adopted them. It became, in course of time, a mark of gentler blood, and it was deemed a disgrace for a gentleman to have but one single name, as the meaner sort. It was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that it became general practice for all people. Other records of the name mention Thomas le Marchaunt, 1273 County Huntingdonshire. Samson le Marchant, ibid. Willelmus Castleforth Merchand, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. John Picknett and Mary Markant were married in London in the year 1615. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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