The surname of MASHITER is of problematic origin. It is suggested that the name derives from the Tudor surname MASHERUDDER (documented in County York in 1517). This would be an occupational nickname for a worker in a brewery, from the Middle English 'mash' meaning malt, mixed with hot water to form 'wort' and 'roter'. i.e. a rudder-shaped implement used to stir the fermenting mass. 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 identity 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 Richard Maschrother, who was documented in 1498 in the County of Yorkshire, and Robert Masherudder appears in Yorkshire in the year 1517. Peter Masrether was recorded in 1584 in County Essex, and Janet Masheder and Agnes Masheter were listed in the Lancashire Wills in 1637. 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according to the accepted theory, was due to the Norman Conquest of 1066 when Old English personal-names were rapidly superseded by the new christian names introduced by the Normans.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. The associated coat of arms is recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
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