This most interesting surname is a curious variant of "Hillary", which has two possible sources. Firstly, it may be of Old French origin, from the personal name "Hilaire, Hilari", ultimately from the Latin "hilaris", meaning cheerful, glad. The Latin name was chosen by many early Christians to express their joy and hope of salvation, and was borne by several saints, in particular St. Hilarius of Poitiers (died 368). The name was popular in France, in the forms Hilari and Halaire, and was brought to England by the Norman conquerors (1066).Secondly, "Hillary" may have derived from an earlier, rare, female personal name, "Eulalie", from the Greek "eulalos", meaning "well spoken, eloquent", which was chosen by early Christians as a reference to the gift of tongues and talking, and was also introduced to England by the Normans. It was the name of the patron saint of Barcelona, and survived in France as "Aulaire". Other surnames from this source include Elleray, Ellery, Elray and Hillery. The "H", became redundant at an early stage, as is shown by the first recording of the surname (see below). Willelmus Hillar is recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Worcestershire in 1230. In London, Thomas Allory was christened on January 23rd 1572, at St. John's Church, Hackney, while Andrew Ellery was christened on September 16th 1627, at St. Dunstan's. Stepney; and Alice Allery married James Boswell on February 18th 1779, also at St. Dunstan's. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Ilarie, which was dated 1227, in the "Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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