This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible sources; the first being that it is topographical for a "dweller by the hill", deriving from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "att", at, with the Olde English pre 7th Century "hyll", a hill. However, the alternative source of this name may be the later West Country development, surviving in placenames as both Rill and Rull, and thus Atrill, and its variant forms Attril and Attrill, would be a locational name from either of these places, for example "atte Rill". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages; while locational surnames were developed when former inhabitants of a place moved to another area, usually to seek work, and were best identified by the name of their birthplace. Recordings from Devonshire Church Registers include the marriage of Edward Atrill and Emlin Crymes in St. Budeaux, on February 17th 1798. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Waller atter Hille, which was dated 1330, in "Placenames of Devon", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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