This interesting surname was originally believed to be of French origin, and whilst this remains a faint possibility, the more likely source is Olde English. We believe that it derives from the ancient pre 7th century words 'mos preost', meaning the 'moor land of the priest', and presumably a now 'lost' medieval location or village, however this is not proven. Some five thousand British Isles surnames originate from now 'lost' places, so whilst the occurence is unusual, it is not entirely uncommon.The surname is recorded in a wide variety of spellings including Mospret, Musprat, Muspratt, Muspret, and Musprot, a sufficient variation in itself to provide a range of origin possibilities. What is certain is that the surname is well recorded in the registers of the counties of Wiltshire and Gloucester since the late 16th century, and earlier in unpublished charters. It also appears in London church registers from 1680 when Helena Muspret married John Fox, at St James church, Dukes Place. The early recordings in the West Country are found particularly in the little village of Urchfont, Wiltshire, and mainly in the spelling of Musprat. The first recording of the now more popular Muspratt may be that of John Muspratt, who married Edirth Crook at Salisbury Cathedral on January 14th 1638. The crew of the famous "HMS Bounty" in 1789, included William Muspratt, given as being an 'able-bodied seaman, tailor and cook's assistant'. He stayed on Tahiti, and was recaptured to face trial in England in 1792. He was however acquitted and released in 1793. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of John Musprat who married Edith Gedding at Urchfront, Wiltshire, on November 21st 1597. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. Throughout the centuries surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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