This surname of MIDDLEMAN is an English occupational name for someone who lived in the middle of a manor, village or settlement. The name is also spelt MIDDLE, MIDEL, MIDDEL and MIDDELL. This was a topographic name for someone who lived and worked in a manor by a pen or fold where animals were confined. A manor, during the middle ages, may have had two or three hundred people living there, most of whom worked in various parts of the manor to produce their food. The manor would be owned by the king or an important noble, or by a religious house or even a freeman. The tenants would have been of three kinds, the freeholders who worked substantial land for which they paid a money rent which freed them of most, but not all, services to the lord, the villeins or serfs who cultivated about thirty acres for which they worked for the lord two or three days a week, and the cotters who held smaller plots and worked shorter periods for the lord of the manor. In the centre of the manor would be the hall, the principal residence of the lord of the manor and the church would be nearby. Around these two important building would be crude houses or cottages of the inhabitants. As overseers usually enjoyed a higher rank, these occupations first appeared recorded in official documents, and tended to become hereditary family names which have continued to this day. The earliest of the name on record appears to be Richard le MIDEL, who was recorded in the year 1279 in County Oxford, and Simon atte MIDDELE was documented in County Somerset in the year 1327. Later instances of the name mention Robert atte MIDLE, who was recorded in Somerset during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377) and Henry atte MIDDEL was documented at the same time. In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armoured warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.
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