- This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon and Germanic origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, it may be derived from a Germanic personal name, either a short form of compound names such as Billard (from the Germanic personal name "Bilhard", from "bil", sword", and "hard", brave, hardy, strong), and Billaud (from the Germanic personal name "Bilwald", composed of the elements "bil", sword, and "wald", rule); or it may be a byname "Bill(a)", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "bil", sword, halberd. Bill was not used as a short form of William during the Middle Ages. The second source is from a metonymic occupational name for a maker of pruning hooks and similar implements, from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "bill", itself from the Olde English "bil", sword, in this case with the meaning shifted to a more peaceful agricultural application. The surname was first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include: Sewinus Bille, in the 1221 Assize Court Rolls of Warwickshire, and Willelmus filius Bille, in the 1301 Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire. John Bill, aged 13 yrs., was an early settler in the New World Colonies, leaving London on the "Hopewell" bound for New England in April 1635. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a silver shield with a stork proper holding in the dexter foot an ancient battle-axe, handle red, top azure, the Crest being a stork's head erased proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Griffin Bil, which was dated 1188, in the "Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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