This very unusual name has long been recorded but has always remained rare. It is generally accepted as being a locational surname from the village of Diggle in the former West Riding of Yorkshire or from some 'lost' village in Devon. However the late Professor Reaney claimed that the name was an example of an early derivative nickname spelling based upon the name "Dick", itself a nickname development of the ancient baptismal Anglo Saxon 'Richard' (Ric- hard) meaning 'brave and powerful'. What is certain is that of all the early pre-medieval popular names such as William, John, and Robert which became surnames in their own right, Richard associated particularly with the famous King Richard 1, the Lionheart, developed more variant spellings and nicknames than any other.When a suffix 's' is attached we have a double diminutive surname which translates as either 'one who comes from Diggle or where the origin is patronymic 'the son of Dick's son'. The spellings through the Centuries have included Dikel(s), Dig(g)le(s), and Dikelin - the latter another example of the double diminutive, although one which apparently died out in the 17th Century. Diglins Drove, a hamlet in Cambridge was named after Thomas Diglin but in 1864 this was changed to Diggles Drove. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Agnes Diggell, which was dated 1219, in the Yorkshire 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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