This originally French surname MARA was from the extremely popular medieval female given name from the Latin MARIA. This was the name of the mother of Christ in the New Testament, as well as several other New Testament figures. It derives from the Aramaic MARYAM (Hebrew Miryam), but the vernacular forms have been influenced by the Roman family name MARIUS. The Hebrew name is of uncertain etymology, but perhaps means 'Wished-for child'. A Latin masculine form of the name MARIANUS was applied by Christians to devotees of the Virgin Mary, and lies behind many of the variants that have travelled the world, including MARIOTTE, MARION, MARRIETTE, MARUSIK, MARUSECK, MARRISON and many more. The earliest French hereditary surnames are found in the 12th century, at more or less the same time as they arose in England, but they are by no means common before the 13th century, and it was not until the 15th century that they stabilized to any great extent; before then a surname might be handed down for two or three generations, but then abandoned in favour of another. In the south, many French surnames have come in from Italy over the centuries, and in Northern France, Germanic influence can often be detected. Many factors contributed to the establishment of a surname system. For generations after the Norman Conquest of 1066 a very few dynasts and magnates passed on hereditary surnames, but the main of the population, with a wide choice of first-names out of Celtic, Old English, Norman and Latin, avoided ambiguity without the need for a second name. A notable member of the name was Edme MARIOTTE (1620-84) the French physicist and priest, born in Burgundy. One of the earliest members of the Academy of Sciences, he wrote on percussion, air and its pressure. In his 'Disorders de la nature de'lair' (1676) he independently stated Boyle's law of 1662, which was for long known in France as MARIOTTE'S Law.
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