This surname of MIRELES is a Spanish, Catalan, Portugese, French, Italian and Sefardic Jewish habitation name from any of various places so called. The origin of this frequent place-name is uncertain. It seems to be from the Latin word MIRANDUS, meaning 'wondrous, lovely', but it is also possible that the name was used in the sense of a watch-tower or look out post. The name is also spelt MIRRLEES, MIRANDOLA, AMIRANDA, MIRRAN, MIRRAMS and MIRRIE. Surnames derived from placenames are divided into two broad categories; topographic names and habitation names. Topographic names are derived from general descriptive references to someone who lived near a physical feature such as an oak tree, a hill, a stream or a church. Habitation names are derived from pre-existing names denoting towns, villages and farmsteads. Other classes of local names include those derived from the names of rivers, individual houses with signs on them, regions and whole countries. A notable member of the name is Professor James Alexander MIRRLEES, the Edgeworth Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Nuffield College, since 1968. He was born on the 5th July, 1936, the son of George B.M. MIRRLEES. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with. In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.
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