This most interesting and unusual surname is a variant of "Abbs", a patronymic form of "Abel", which itself derives from the Hebrew given name "Hevel", from the Hebrew "hevel", breath, vigour, used also in the figurative sense of "vanity". The personal name "Abel" was borne by the son of Adam, who was murdered by his brother Cain; it was popular as a given name in Christendom during the Middle Ages, when there was a cult of "suffering innocence" which Abel represented. The surname is found widespread in Norfolk Church Registers, and is found in the modern idiom as Abbs, Abbis, Abbiss, Ab(b)ys(s), Abbes, Abson and Abbison. Early examples of the surname include: the marriage of Jane Abbis and Robert Lawter, at Covehithe in Suffolk, on October 28th 1611; the christening of James, son of Robert and Jane Abbiss, on February 2nd 1690, at St. Mary Woolnoth, London; and the marriage of William Abbiss and Sarah Page, at Great Yarmouth, on August 25th 1724. A notable namebearer was William Abbys, who was mayor of the town of Bedford in 1534. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Abbys, which was dated 1480, in medieval documents published in the "History of Norfolk", by Blomefield and Parkin, during the reign of King Edward 1V, known as "The Self Proclaimed King", 1461 - 1483. 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.
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