This most interesting and unusual surname has two distinct possible origins, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, the name may be locational from Moddershall in Staffordshire, recorded as "Modredeshale" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Modred", composed of the elements "mod", heart, spirit, courage, and "red", counsel, wisdom, with "halh", nook, recess; hence, "Modred's recess". Locational surnames were originally given to the Lord of the Manor, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to settle elsewhere. One William de Modreshalle was noted in the 1305 Chartulary of the Priory of St. Thomas, Staffordshire. Mothersole may also have originated as a nickname for a brave, proud soul from the Olde English words "modig", proud and "sawol", soul. The creation of surnames from nicknames was a widespread practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to a variety of personal characteristics, mental, moral and physical. In 1308, a Hugh Modysowel was recorded in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Occasionally, the nickname may have been given to one in the habit of swearing with the oath "on my mother's soul", as in Ralph Modersoule (Lancashire, 1313). In 1674, one John Mothersole was entered in the Hearth Tax Returns for Staffordshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Modisoule, which was dated 1275, in the "Records of the Manor of Wakefield", Yorkshire, during the reign of Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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.

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