A Primer on Mullis surname and variant

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A SHORT PRIMER ON THE MULLIS SURNAME, ORIGINS AND VARIANTS IN EUROPE, IN AMERICA BY 1658

 

The Mullis surname or a variant thereof will be found throughout that part of Europe where the Roman Empire and Latin Language were supreme for six centuries or more. Mullis, specifically, will be traced to Switzerland, England, also Russia. I have traced the origins of the Mullis family of Virginia and North Carolina (1658-1790 +) to England where it originated in the West Country of Devon and Cornwall from the Norman Conquest of 1066. From that year, its most commonly found form in records was MOLIS, the phonetic Latin form of Meulles, introduced to England at Hastings and two Norman Knights who were from Meulles, a barony in Normandy France. Meulles literally meant millstones, the main part of any mill. Latin was the official legal recording language used in medieval Europe, fortunately, because being phonetic it enables us to know how surnames were pronounced, regardless of spelling in any language. Other variants found in records relating to the same landed gentry in Devon and Cornwall were: Meulis, Moles, Molys, Mollys, Mulys, Mules and, by midsixteenth century, Mulles and Mullis. All variants relating to the same family, fortunately preserved linearly (chronologically) in medieval Inquisitionis Post Mortem, or Probate, and Tax Records, Land Transfers in Devon and eastern Cornwall. The original Devon Meulles>Molis of Hastings or the Conquest, eventually became Mulys>Mules, and ownership of the heraldic status remained with that surname into the twentieth century. By the fourteenth and fifteenth century, a variant form of Molys followed Free Tenants in Cornwall, apparently a non-inheriting cadet line of the Mules, as lands they held were in close proximity to the still gentry status Mules family. The Mullis form of 1550s occurred within a decade of the Mulles form, possibly used by the recording clerk in order to differentiate between Mules family and what became Mullis shortly thereafter, in view of the wide gap separating the Mules and Mulles>Mullis who were commoners, though enjoying the status of yeomen--lease or copyright holders of lands, not mere husbandmen farm laborers who worked under/for yeomen. The parishes where this name variant transformation occurred was Michaelstow and neighboring Altarnun, where the earliest known use of Mullis surname has been found in all England.  From there, Mullis went predominantly into the Midlands counties where as of the early twentieth century it was still commonly found. Many Cornish surnamed families left Cornwall during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries due to greater opportunities for employment as England became industrialized.  .

The identical Swiss Mullis surname first appeared in thirteenth century Flums, near a site called Mollis in Latin records, meaning wet, low or swampy land.  Phonetically identical to Molis, meaning millstones, in Germanic based English, Mullis was the end result just as occurred in Switzerland. 

Elsewhere in Europe, notably France, the result was the surname of Moulis and, more rarely, Mulliez.. The Mouis variant also occurs in Czechoslovakia,.  Molis will be found throughout Europe and also in the United States, will be found in Poland, and in Russia it became Mullis.

The first or earliest recorded instance of Swiss Mullis in the US was an immigrant, John Mullis, in Illinois ca. 1840 and later censuses. Russian Mullis immigrants came by the 1890s, the earliest being a Mulis from Kiev who immigrated to America in the 1820s.  

Today, Mullis will be found throughout the United States. Those whose ancestry can be traced to 1700s North Carolina, are descended from the first Immigrant, John Mullis, in 1658 Virginia.

The Meulles at Hastings, Baldwin and Roger, are descended directly from the Viking Rollo who took control of Normandy in 915. Their descent included Queen Emma of Normandy, who married two English Kings and was thereby mother of two English Kings who succeeded her husbands, Aethelred the Unready and Cnute, producing kings Harthacnute and lastly, King Edward the Confessor who died in 1066. Edward's death paved the way for his cousin, Duke William of Normandy, to claim the English throne. Baldwin de Meulles was first cousin to soon-to-be King William..

King William promptly recognized his cousin and boyhood companion, Baldwin de Meulles, in 1067 by making him High Sheriff of Devon and granting him 100,000 acres of Conquest spoils, with a barony at Okehampton. By Domsday Survey of 1086, Roger de Molis held 2500 of Baldwin's land spoils, his seat at Chichicott Manor, also holding Lew Trenchard, Exbourne, Highampton and Lashbrooke, properties his descendants held through 1396, including lands near Michaelstow Parish.

Questions welcome: Arthur Mullies,  amullies@yahoo.com.

in The Tree House by Arthur Mullies G2G Crew (610 points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

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