This interesting surname has two distinct possible origins, each with its own history and derivation. Firstly, Curless may be an Anglicized form of the Old Gaelic "MacCoirleasa", son of Coirleas or Corless, ultimately from the Irish and Scottish male given name "Cathal" (a compound of "cath", battle, and "al", mighty), which was initially Anglicized "Charles". A family of this name were followers of the great O'Kelly sept of Ui Maine, an ancient population territory comprising mid Galway and south Roscommon, and the surname still survives in County Galway under the forms Charles and Corless. The following early entry occurs in the Exchequer Rolls of Scotland: "Payment of cheese to Gilmor Mc Kathail in Tarbeth, 1326". The second possibility is that Curless originated as a nickname for a carefree person, from the Olde English pre 7th Century "carleas", a compound of "caru", grief, care, and "leas", free from, without. One of the earliest recordings of the surname from this source is that of Reginald Carles (Gloucestershire, 1200). In the modern idiom the name has six variant spellings: Car(e)less, Corless, Curless, Curleas and Curlis. On January 12th 1706, Mary, daughter of John and Elizabeth Curless, was christened at St. Andrew's, Enfield, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard Carles, which was dated 1141, in "Early London Personal Names", during the reign of King Stephen, known as "Count of Blois", 1135 - 1154. 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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