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About the study
This study is an attempt to separate out the mis-transcribed Marches, Marshes, Markes, Murches et al and then try to work out where all the scattered March family members may have originally come from.
I am working on the UK side, having started with Scotland and worked my way down through Northern England to Leicester and Northampton, where a lot of Marches are busy working in the shoe and hosiery trade.
Anyone with an interest in the surname in other parts of the UK or around the world, please get in touch. I'd be delighted to collaborate with you.
The surname books in my local library say that March is a 'dweller on the borders'. This seems reasonable, given that the borders between England and Scotland, and England and Wales used to be referred to in official documents as the Marches of Scotland and Wales, and there was a high proportion of March surnames in north east England in the 1800s. The chances of proving this through family trees is somewhat unlikely, however, given the fragmentary data available the further back we go.
There are other sources that insist that it is a place surname, from March in Cambridgeshire. There may be a branch deriving from this source, but that also will be difficult to prove.
Historical occurrences of the name
One of the earliest March surnames is that of a Lord High Treasurer of England and Bishop of Bath and Wells, William (de or de la) March. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_of_March who died in 1302.
The use of 'de' in his name suggests a town, but 'de la' implies general location.
According to http://taliesin-arlein.net, in 2002 there were 4815 people with the March surname in England and Wales, making it the 1660th most common.
There are a lot more in the USA, of course, although many of these come from Poland and other eastern European countries.