Recorded in several forms including Corneille, Cornell, and prossibly Cornbill and Cornbell, this is an English surname but probably of Roman origins. It derives from the Latin "Cornelius" meaning "horn", through the later medieval French and English "corneille". The cathedral of St Cornelius in France was for many centuries a place of particular pilgrimage. In the middle ages however the name may have taken on a different meaning. "Corneille" described a crow, and hence the name and surname was probably a nickname for a talkative person! The name was introduced into England after the Norman Invasion of 1066, and it also spread rapidly across the whole of Northern Europe as far as Russia. The surname now has over fify spellings which range from basic forms such as Cornel and Quernel, to patronymics such as Nilles, Cornlissen, and Kornilyev. The earliest examples of the name recording are to be found in England. This was the first country to adopt hereditary surnames. Examples include William Corneille in the pipe rolls of Oxford for the year 1206, and Henry de Cornell who is mentioned in the Poll Tax Records of Staffordshire in 1229. Amongst the early settlers to the New England colonies of America, was a Fleming by the name of Pierre Cornille. In 1621 he was given special dispensation to emigrate to Virginia. His occupation is given as "wine dresser". We believe that the forms as Cornbee (1648), Cornbill (1765), and Cornbell (1785), recorded in Greater London and possibly elsewhere, may have developed through a combination of erratic education of clerics in the 17th and 18th centuries, following the disruption following the Civil War of 1640 - 1660, and very thick local dialects which produced many 'sounds like' spellings.
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