This English topographic name of MALTHOUSE was for someone who lived at a malt-house, and was originally derived from the elements MEALT and HUSE. In effect this was the name for a brewer. The malt-house was the building in which the cereal was dried in an oven after it had been soaked in water to make it germinate. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. Many of the occupation names were descriptive and could be varied. In the Middle Ages, at least among the Christian population, people did not usually pursue specialized occupations exclusively to the extent that we do today, and they would, in fact, turn their hand to any form of work that needed to be done, particularly in a large house or mansion, or on farms and smallholdings. In early documents, surnames often refer to the actual holder of an office, whether the church or state. Early records of the name mention Fulk atte Malthuse who was documented in the year 1332 in County Sussex, and Thomas de Malthous of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. William Malthouse appears in 1447 in County Yorkshire. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. Later instances of the name include William Maltus of York, who registered at Oxford University in the year 1579. John Thomson married Ann Malthus of Reading, at St. Mary, Aldermary, London in 1615.
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