This famous name, arguably 'The' most famous name in British history, is of pre Anglo - Saxon origin. It is locational and derives from any one of the several places called 'Churchill' in Somerset, Oxfordshire and Worcestershire. These villages are variously recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Cercelle', 'Circehill' and 'Cercehalle', and all share the same derivation and meaning. This is from the Olde English pre 7th Century 'cyrice' meaning church plus 'hyll', - the church on the hill. However in at least one case the translation is known to be quite different. 'Churchill' in Devon is recorded in 1201 as 'Curcheswille', and this translates as 'the spring on the hill' from the Olde British (pre-Roman) 'cruc', meaning hill, and 'wiella', a spring. Early examples of the name recordings include Matilda de Chirchull in the 1275 Subsidy Rolls of Worcester, and William atte Churchull of Somerset in the year 1333. There has hardly been a time since the 16th century when the name of Churchill, has not been prominent in the nations affairs. The famous statesman and war leader, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill (1875 - 1965) was born at Blenheim Palace. This was built by the nation for his forbearer John Churchill (1650 - 1722), first Duke of Marlborough, and hero of the 18th Century wars against France. The first coat of arms granted to the family was confirmed in 1620, but believed to originate in the reign of King Henry 111 (1216 - 1272). This has the blazon of a black field, charged with a silver lion rampant, debruised with a red bendlet. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John de Chirchehul, which was dated 1221, a witness in the Warwickshire Assize Court, 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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