This unusual surname, also recorded as Mates, Matt, and Matts, is a nickname from the medieval period. It is an affectionate or nickname style of 'Matthew', a name introduced into England at the time of the Norman Conquest of 1066. In fact such was the popularity of 'Matthew', at one time it was fourth behind William, John and Richard, that a whole series of quite distinct surnames originated from it. These include Matthewman, Matthewson, Mathes, Mattys, Mathieson (Scottish), Mattingson, and Mattimoe. 'Matthew' is from the ancient Hebrew 'Mattathiah' translating as 'the gift of god'. In France in the 10th century it was latinised 'Matthaeus', and later 'Mathieu' - the spelling form first recorded in England. The 1086 Domesday Book gives a number of examples although none are surnames. Examples of early surname recordings include Thomas Matt who married Mary Toner at St Dunstans, Stepney, on May 8th 1561, Susan Mayte, who married John Hadocke at St. Andrews by the Tower, London on March 8th 1614, and Robert Mates, christened at St Botolphs Church, Bishopgate, London, on August 10th 1684. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam Matte, which was dated 1275, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Warwick, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as 'The hammer of the Scots', 1272 - 1307. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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