The English surname of MAINPRIZE was an official name 'the mainprize' one who is security for another, or one who has found sureties for his appearance on the proper day; a prisoner at large. MAINPRIZE is one who pledges bail or security for another. The name is also spelt MAINPRICE, MAINPRISE and MIMPRISS. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Robert, son of Thomas MEMPRISSE, who was buried at St. Peter, Cornhill, London in the year 1625, and Isaak MEMPRIS and Mary Allen were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1659. Surnames can be divided into four categories; place names, occupation names, nicknames and patronymics. PLACE NAMES are the largest group and covers all those names first applied to people who lived in or nearby to a particular place. For example, Grove, Wood, Field, Meadow, and Street are obvious. Occasionally names were taken from obscure villages or hamlets which no longer exist and this can make research confusing. OCCUPATION NAMES cover nearly all trades which existed in the Middle Ages. These are numerous. It does not necessarily follow that such names as King, Duke, Earl and so on mean your ancestors were of noble blood. It is much more likely that such named people worked for the person referred to. NICKNAMES. This is a smaller group but in many ways more interesting. They usually originated as a by-name for someone by describing their appearance, personal disposition or character but which became handed down through the ages and did not apply to their descendants. For instance the name Black would denote a dark man, Little, someone small (or even somewhat ambiguously) someone tall. PATRONYMICS. This group covers all names which derive immediately from the owner's father. Many christian names which are also surnames have, over the years, lost the possessive form but the origin is still the same. Examples of this could be names such as Peter,Thomas, Henry - all names which became both christian and surnames over the years. A later instance of the name includes William Morgan and Elizabeth MEMPRISS, who were married at St. Dionis Backchurch, London in the year 1663.
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