- Recorded in over two hundred spelling forms throughout the Christian world this surname is of Roman (pre Christian) origins. The surname spellings range from examples such as Paul, Paule, and Pawle in England, Paolo and Paulo (Spain & Portugal), Pauli and Polo (Italy), Palle (Germany), Pabel (Czech) and Pal (Hungary), to all the patronymic and diminutive forms such as Paulson, Pauly, Paolozzi, Pavek, and many, many more. However spelt the name derives from the Latin word "paulus" meaning small, which became a baptismal term of endearment, as in 'small person'. It is said that St Paul, having previously been Saul, adopted the name after his conversion to Christianity, and there is no doubt that the popularity of the name throughout Europe, largely derives from his well recorded and popular missionary work. In addition throughout Europe in the medieval period, 'Crusaders', the famous Knights Templar, returning from their various (unsuccessful) expeditions to free the Holy Land from the Muslims, called their children by biblical names in honour of their fathers prowess. In time these became surnames, and perhaps not surprisingly in a time of religious revival, one of the most popular of all surnames. The first known recordings of the surname in any spellings are in England and Germany, and early examples taken from authentic rolls and charters of the period include that of John Paul, which was dated 1292, in the charters called 'The Subsidy Rolls' of the city of London. This was during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots," 1272 - 1307. In Germany the first known recording is that of Ludolf Pauli, given as being a Burger of Stettin, in the year 1325. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.