This ancient surname is one of the many which originate from the popular Roman-Latin baptismal name "Marcus", itself a development of the word "mar", meaning to gleam. The popularity of the name is closely associated with St Mark, the Evangelist, and author of the second gospel, although the surname itself is many centuries later. The name, as St Mark or St Marc, or Sanctus Marcus, was often applied in pre-medieval times to religious sanctuaries, monastery's, and other places of religion. These place names were particularly popular in Italy and Spain, and the south of France. The developing locational surnames were generally given either to the original lords of the village or region, and thereafter were adopted as hereditary surnames, or more usually the name was given as a form of identification to people who moved from their original homelands. It was then, and it often remains so today, that one of the easiest means of identifying a stranger is to call him or her by the name of the place or country from which they originate. There are over one hundred variant forms of the surname, and they are recorded in every European country. The spellings range from De Marco, Di Marko, Marcus, Mark, Marchi, Merck, Marck and Van der Marck, to Marconi, Marchitello, De Marchi, Marcovitch, Markushkin, and even Marczewski. The first known recording is probably that of Heinrich Mark, in the charters of the town of Biberach, Germany, in the year 1390.