This interesting and uncommon name is of Old French origin, introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It may be, firstly, a French locational surname, deriving from the place called (Le) Marais in Calvados; the first recorded bearer of the surname, below, was from this region. The place was so called from the Old French "marais", marsh, and this term was also used as a topographical surname for someone living by or near a marsh, as was the Norman-Picard equivalent "marese". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages.Early examples of the surname, now found as Maris, Marris and Mares, include: William de Mares (1191, Kent); Aldwin des Mareis (1199, Gloucestershire); Walter del Mareys (1275, Worcestershire); and Richard de Marise (1275, ibid.). In London, the marriage of Lenard Maris and Lettice Thresher was recorded at St. Gabriel Fenchurch, on January 16th 1585. The Coat of Arms most associated with the family depicts a silver saltire engrailed on a red shield; the Crest is a castle, proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Maris, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Kent, during the reign of King William 1, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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.
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