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Surname Merrilees - Meaning and Origin

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Merrilees: What does the surname Merrilees mean?

The surname Merrilees is of Scottish origin, derived from the old barony of Merrilees in the parish of Corstorphine, near Edinburgh, Scotland. The name is believed to have come from two Scots words: 'merel' which means 'merry' or 'pleasant', and ‘leas’ which means 'pasture', implying 'merry meadow' or 'pleasant pasture'. It's also speculated that the name could mean 'boundary garden'. Like other Scottish surnames, Merrilees was also a locational name given to those who hailed from the area or the barony. Over time, as people moved from one area to another, the surname became more widespread. A couple of early documented records of this name trace back to the end of the 12th century, indicating its historical longevity. Today, it is a reasonably uncommon surname.

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Merrilees: Where does the name Merrilees come from?

The surname Merrilees has a Scottish origin. It is believed to be derived from the village of Meriolis, located in the region of Midlothian, Scotland. The name could also potentially be from an old Scottish personal name. The Merrilees family was a prominent one in its locale, owning large areas of land.

Today, the surname Merrilees is found globally due to migration, but it remains most common in Scotland and other English-speaking countries like the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. It is, however, still comparatively rare and unique as a surname. Its global dispersal is likely due to descendants migrating to different parts of the world during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, such as during the Highland Clearances, a historical event where many Scottish citizens were forced or chose to leave Scotland. This period of migration led to a worldwide spread of Scottish surnames which includes Merrilees.

Variations of the surname Merrilees

The surname Merrilees is of Scottish origin, although there are several different theories about its precise derivation. It is thought to be a locational surname, originating from a place named Merrilees in Scotland. The surname could derive from the Old English words "merry" and "leas" or "lees," meaning "from the merry meadow."

Some variants of the name include Merrielees, Merrelies, Merilies, Merrilies, Merrilie, Merrilies, Merrylees, Merryles, Merylees, Merylies, and Merry Lees. In some cases, these variants may have evolved as a result of regional pronunciations or transcription errors in written records.

The name seems to have a few variant spellings including Merilies, Merry Lee, Merillie, Lees, among others. Misspellings might also occur, especially in older records, where scribes would write the name phonetically.

It is also worth noting that certain surnames may be prevalent in particular areas of Scotland, and an understanding of these regional patterns can help in tracing the origin and history of the surname. The use of "Merrilees" spelling is known to be most common in the United Kingdom. It is long-established particularly in the East Lothian and Midlothian areas of Scotland. The spelling "Merrielees" is also found in these areas.

Famous people with the name Merrilees

  • David Merrilees: A former Scottish businessman and government advisor, he was the Labour Member of Parliament for Glasgow Cathcart from 1979 until 1983.
  • Jake Merrilees: An Australian rugby union player who most recently played for the Brumbies in 2020.
  • Julia Merrilees: A British stage and television actress, she is best known for her roles in the television series Don't Wait Up (1983–1988) and A Question of Sport (1968–1973).
  • Paul Merrilees: A former English professional footballer who played as a defender for clubs including Middlesbrough F.C. and West Bromwich Albion.
  • Peter Merrilees: A British-born American biologist, conservationist, and naturalist, he worked with the National Park Service for over 25 years as a researcher, naturalist, and wildlife biologist.
  • Richard Merrilees: An Australian cricketer and teacher, he played for New South Wales in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Sophie Merrilees: A British actress, voiceover artist, and model, she is best known for her roles in shows such as Casualty, Doctors, and Call the Midwife.
  • Tom Merrilees: A British actor, he is best known for his roles in films and television series such as EastEnders, Ordinary Lies, and Homefront.
  • William Merrilees: A British oceanographer and scientist who worked for the Natural History Museum in London, he made a number of voyages from 1937 to 1967 to study the ocean depths and the abyssal environment.

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