- This picturesque surname is of Anglo-Norse origin and is a topographical name either for a dweller by a millbank, deriving from the Old English "nylen", mill and the Middle English "banke", a bank or slope, or a dweller by the sand-bank, from the Old Norse "melr", sand bank, or sand dune. Topographical names are some of the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or manmade, provided obvious and convenient means of identification. Among the recordings in London is the marriage of Ann Milbank and Francis Wilkinson of October 17th 1715 at Charter-House Chappel, and in Yorkshire the christening of Elizabeth Milbank on July 13th 1731 at Well, near Bedale. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Bryan Mealbancke, which was dated October 5th 1589, a witness at St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1st, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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.
Surnames reference. 2013.