|The surname Mead and its variants Meade and Mede first appear in the
mid 13th century when John ate Mede is mentioned in the Essex fine
court rolls. It is possible that the name existed before then, but very
few records survive from that time.|
Surnames did not become
hereditary for all levels of society until the early 14th century.
Before then Mede was just a descriptive name indicating someone who
lived by a meadow or mead. At the same time in the early records there
were people called de prato (Norman French) or ad Pratum (Latin), the
equivalent of atte Mede. These descriptive names are similar in usage
to faber (the Latin for a smith) or filio Ricardi (Richard's son).
Faber, Smith and Richardson, like Mead and Meade have survived to the
From around 1300 there are indications that
Mede was being used as a surname in the sense we know today and had
become hereditary. The name was becoming established in Somerset and
the counties around London, especially Essex, Hertfordshire and
Buckinghamshire. This pattern remained little changed until the late
Some families can be traced for several
generations to the 14th and 15th centuries, but are not necessarily
related to each other. The name has also been adopted as an anglicised
form of some foreign surnames. The surname Mead has therefore
originated independently in different locations producing several
unrelated families with the same or similar surnames.
Meads of Essex can be traced back to a number of different origins
outside the county. The earliest recorded influx came from Bristol in
the late 15th century, but there are other later moves into the county
from Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
Charlie Mead, 2009.
|“(origin: Local) A meadow, a tract
of low land; the sense is, extended or flat, depressed land.”|
Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names With an Essay on their
Derivation and Import,
name for someone who lived by a meadow, from Middle English mede ‘meadow’ (Old English m?d).
- “2. metonymic
occupational name for a brewer or seller of mead (Old English meodu), an
alcoholic beverage made by fermenting honey.”
Dictionary of American
Family Names, Oxford
University Press, 2003
interesting name, with variant spellings Meade, Mead, Meads and Mede,
has two distinct possible origins, the first and most likely being an
English topographical name from residence, in or by a meadow. the
derivation in this case is from the old English pre 7th Century “moed”,
(Medieval English “mede”), a meadow and John Atemede, witness - the
1248 “Fine Court Rolls of Essex” is the earliest recorded namebearer.
Other early recordings include: Nicholas atte Mede, (Somerset 1307);
Richard in the Mede (Surrey, 1332); Willelmus del Mede, (Yorkshire,
1379) and John Mede, (Kent, 1454). The second possibility is that the
name originated as a metonymic occupational name for a brewer or seller
of “Mead”, a fermented beverage made from honey and water, often with
spices added, the derivation being from the old English “meodu”, mead.
A famous namebearer was Richard Mead (1673–1754), physician to Sir
Isaac Newton and Sir Robert Walpole as well as King George 1st and King
George II. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to
be that of Richard Mede, which was dated 1190, “The Pipe Rolls of
Warwickshire”, during the reign of King Richard 1st, “Richard of
Bordeaux”, 1189–1199. 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
Source: Name Origin Research, www.surnamedb.com.