This interesting and unusual surname is of Norman origin, and was introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066. The derivation is from the Old French, "isle", an island, (from the Latin "insula", as in the first recording below), with the fused definite article "le", and is a topographical name for someone who lived on an island. Topographical names were some of the earliest created, as topographical features, whether atural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification.The surname may also be a locational name for someone from the French town of "Lille", which derives its name from the Old French "isle", an island. Locational names were originally given as a means of identification to those who left their village or place of origin to settle elsewhere. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 11th Century (see below), and can also be found as Lisle, Lile, Lyle, de Lisle and De L'Isle. Peter de Isla is noted in the Red Book of the Exchequer, Yorkshire (1166). Recordings of the surname from the church registers include the marriage of Thomas Lisle and Margaret Ladd on February 7th 1609 at St Gregory's Church, London, and Thomas Liell, who married Mrs Mary Knapman at St Michaels Rotherhithe, on April 28th 1692. A Coat of Arms granted to the family is a gold shield, on a red chevron between three red demi lions rampant, three silver trefoils. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hunfridus de Insula, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Wiltshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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