Cornwall, a rugged peninsula in southwestern England that is noted for its strong Gaelic traditions. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Despite the fact that occupational surnames are rare among the Cornish People, they nevertheless sometimes adopted surnames derived from the type of work they did. The surname Messerlay was an occupational name for a harvester having derived from the Old French word messier, meaning harvester or reaper.
Early Origins of the Messerlay family
family seat some say, before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 A.D. by Duke William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings.
Early History of the Messerlay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Messerlay research.
Another 301 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1685, 1760, 1861, 1928 and 1760 are included under the topic Early Messerlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Messerlay Spelling Variations
Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Messervy, Messerwy, Messervey, Misservy, Misservey, Meserwy, Messerwey, Messewey, Messewy, Messarmy, Messarmey, Masservy, Masserwy, Messerly and many more.
Early Notables of the Messerlay family (pre 1700)
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Migration of the Messerlay family to the New World and Oceana
Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Messerlay were among those contributors: Daniel Messerly arrived in Philadelphia in 1749; Jacob Messerlee settled in Philadelphia in 1840. In Newfoundland, Captain Masservey settled as already noted.
The Messerlay Motto
The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.
Motto: Au valeureux coeur rien impossible
Motto Translation: To the valiant heart, nothing is impossible.
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