There are certain surnames that could be described as universal, this is one of them. As the base name 'Abel' it is recorded in every European country. The apparently patronymic 'Abel(e)s' is much rarer, but however spelt (see below) all derive originally from the ancient Hebrew given name 'Hevel', and translating as 'breath or vigour'. 'Hevel' was originally a personal name of endearment and was borne by the son of Adam, who was murdered by his brother Cain. The name was probably introduced into Europe by the returning Crusaders, and was very popular as a given name in Christendom during the Middle Ages, when there was a cult of 'suffering innocence' which Abel represented. The early surname was widely recorded in Germany, the East of England and Southern Scotland. The surname is now recorded in the modern spellings of Abel, Able, Abele, Abelle, and the patronymic Abels, Abeles, Abells, Abelin, Abelen, Abelmann, Ablesen, Abelson, and Ableson. Early examples of the surname recordings include Master Abel, in the rolls of Kelso Abbey, Scotland, in 1235, Richard Abel of Buckinghamshire, England, in the 1273 Hundred rolls of that county, and Hans Abel zu Niederstotzingen, Germany in 1355. Later recordings include Appolonica Abeles of Pfalz, Bayern, Germany, on April 4th 1620, John Abels of Stepney, London, on January 6th 1650, and Catharine Abels, who married Petrus Fuchs at Erp Catholic church, Rheinland, Germany, on November 2nd 1706. The coat of arms is very distinctive having the blazon of a silver field, charged with twelve gold fleur de lis on a saltire of blue. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Abel, which was dated 1197, in the pipe rolls of the county of Essex, during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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