This unusual surname is of French derivation. It was introduced by the Normans after the 1066 invasion, but in fact the true origin is much older, and maybe pre-Christian. It has two possible derivations, the first from the Roman (Latin) 'debil-is', which seems to have been a metonymic for a doctor or healer, one who dealt with the sick. The literal translation is 'poorly or weak', whilst the second possible origin according to the eminent Victorian etymologist Canon C W Bardsley, was a nickname derivation from the old French 'Theodore' to Tibald and Tibble or Dibble, Deble etc. Certainly the name as a surname, in all its various spellings, seems to have become popular from the 12th century in Britain. Today the spellings are usually Deble, Deeble, De Bell, Debell, Dibble, Dible, Debill, Debold, Daybell and Diable. Early recordings include Alexander le Deble, a witness at the Staffordshire Assize court in the year 1221, Ralph Dibald of York, and William Dible, both in the 1273 Hundred Rolls. Later recordings include Margaret Dyball, died at Norwich in 1611, and Mary Debell in the wills list of Devon for 1699. Thomas Dible with his wife Francis, were amongst the earliest settlers in the New England colonies of America. They embarked from 'Portus Waymouth (Weymouth, in Dorset) on 'ye 20th March, 1635', although the name of the ship does not appear to be recorded. The coat of arms, granted in Cornwall, is black, on a silver chief, a red lion passant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Debel, which was dated 1197, in the pipe rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as 'The lionheart', 1189 - 1199. 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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