- This very early patronymic surname, now recorded in over hundred different spellings from Daniel, Daniels, and Danielli as examples, to Danelet, Danilevich, and Daszkiewicz , and found in every European country from the medieval period onwards, derives from the Hebrew male personal name "Daniel". The name means "God is my judge" and its long popularity is associated with the famous biblical story "The book of Daniel", and in particular how his life was saved in the lions cage. The personal name was born by both a second century Christian martyr and a 9th century hermit, but its greatest growth period is associated with the famous "Crusades" of the 12th century. Soldiers or pilgrims, returning from the various unsuccessful expeditions to free the Holy Land from the Saracens, named their children with biblical names, as a reminder of their fathers exploits. The result was an explosion in names of Hebrew origin, which themselves developed quickly into surnames, many traditional names being lost for ever. Rather confusingly these early (sur)names which include spellings such as Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph, were therefore Hebrew but not Jewish. England was the first country to adopt both surnames and register recordings, and it is in that country that the earliest recordings are to be found. The very first recorded spelling of the hereditary surname anywhere in the world, is believed to be that of Roger Daniel, in the famous Domesday Book for the county of Sussex, England. This was during the reign of King William 1st, known as "William, The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. Throughout the centuries surnames have continued to "develop" in almost every country, often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.
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