The surname of MANSER is of English origin from the given male name Manasseh, borne occasionally in the Middle Ages by Christians as well as by Jews. The name in Hebrew is Menashe 'One who causes to forget'. The name was also an occupational name for someone who made handles for agricultural and domestic implements, from an ancient derivation of the Anglo-Norman-French 'mance' meaning handle. Many modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked. The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen. As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognise today. Early records of the name mention Manasses (without surname) who was listed as a tenant in the Domesday Book of 1086, and Manasserus de Danmartin appears in County Suffolk in the year 1166. Manaserus de Hasting was recorded in 1207 in County Sussex, and Alan Mauncer was mentioned in a document in 1296 in Sussex. John Mauncer was listed in 1327 in Essex. The rise of surnames, according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans. Of these, only a few were really popular and in the 12th century this scarcity of christian names led to the increasing use of surnames to distinguish the numerous individuals of the same name. Some Normans had hereditary surnames before they came to England, but there is evidence that surnames would have developed in England even had there been no Norman Conquest. The development of the feudal system made it essential that the king should know exactly what service each person owed. Payments to and by the exchequer required that debtors and creditors should be particularized, and it became official that each individual acquired exact identification.
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