This Norman French and English surname of MARCHI was a nickname for someone who behaved like a marquess or an occupational name for a servant in the household of a marquess. The name was originally derived from the Old French word MARQUIS. The title originally referred to the governor of a border territory named MARQUE. Marquesses did not form part of the original French feudal structure of nobility; the title was first adopted by the Counts of Toulouse because of their possessions in the border region beyond the Rhone. The name has numerous variant spellings which include LEMARQUIS, MARCHIS, MARQUES, MARQUESE, MARCHESE, MARCHESI, MARCHESO, MARCHISI, MARQUISET, MARCHISELLO, MARCHESOTTI and MARCHESONI. The name was also a baptismal name 'the son of Mark' which was originally from the Latin Marcus, the personal name of St Mark the Evangelist, author of the second Gospel. The name was borne also by a number of other early Christian saints. MARCUS was an old Roman name of uncertain etymology; it may have some connection with the war God Mars. The given name was not as popular in England in the Middle Ages as it was on the Continent, especially in Italy, where the evangelist became the patron of Venice and the Venetian Republic, and was allegedly buried at Aquileia. A notable member of the name was Donald Robert Perry MARQUIS (1878-1937), who was the American novelist, playwright and poet, born in Walnut, Illinois. His formal education was aborted at 15 and he worked at various jobs before studying art for a spell. He had a varied career as a journalist and wrote serious plays and poems, but he became a celebrity and a comic writer with 'The Old Soak's History of the World' (1924). French, or rather Norman French, was the language of the aristocracy and the upper classes in England at the time fixed surnames were being developed, it is therefore not surprising that many of our well-known family names are derived from French words. Originally only Christian or personal names were used, and although a few came into being during the 10th century, surnames were not widely used until much later, when people began to realize the prestige of having a second name.
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