Recorded in several spelling forms including Egel, Egell, Egle and Egelle, and also used as an element in compound surnames such as Egiloff, Egelof, Egelof, and Egelhoffer, this is a medieval surname but of pre 7th century Germanic origins. Originally, and before the development of surnames in the 13th century, it was a popular first or baptismal name. It derives from the word 'agil' meaning an edge, a word which was sometimes used to describe the point of a sword or lance. As the compound Egiloff it was the name of several kings of Lombardy, the ancestors of the later medieval Bavarian Dukes of Agiolfinger, who were also recorded amongst the nobility of Italy. Personal names which derived from victory, rule, and the power of the sword, were particulary popular in the period of history known as "The Dark Ages". This was the time after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century through to the rise of the Emperor Charlemagne in the 9th century. Anarchy and the total breakdown of law and order, was the rule in Europe during this period, and people in seeking a more settled existence, used names as a symbol of better times. This was one of them. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving rolls and charters of Germany and Switzerland include: Hinrich Egel of Hamburg, in the registers of citizens of that city for the year 1309, Hans Egelolf of Uberlingen in 1311, and Aubrecht Egelin of Ehningen in 1429.
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