Derived from the French 'eglise' and the Spanish 'Iglesia', this is usually a habitational surname. Like the English surname 'Church', it describes either a person who lived by such a building, or more likely had some responsibility for the maintenance or upkeep of the building. The church, in most medieval regions of Europe, formed the centre point of the local activities, and it may be that the nameholders had other positions of importance as shown by the surnames with the preface of De or De La.These prepositions were always used throughout Europe from the early 12th century to imply both land ownership and aristocracy. This may suggest that early nameholders also owned, if not the church, perhaps the rights of the church, or the ground on which it stood. Recorded in the spelling forms of De La Eglise, De La Yglesia, Leglise, Eglis, Eglise, Eglaise, Iglesia, Iglesias, and possibly others, the name is well recorded. Examples of these recordings taken from authentic civil and religious registers of the various countries, include Marguerite Leglise, at Allones, Maine et Cote, France, christened there on March 24th 1741, and Andreas Eglis, who married Elisabetha Hunblasin, at Keskatel, Bas-Rhin, on November 18th 1749. Maria Velayos Iglesia was christened at Craspos, Avila, Spain, on June 22nd 1798, and Maria Catherine Eglaise at Vitry, Meurthe-et-Moselle, France, on November 11th 1852. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Maria de la Yglesia, which was dated September 18th 1613, married at San Pedro Apostal, Valladolid, Spain, during the reign of King Phillip 11 of Spain, Emperor of Mexico, 1598 - 1621. 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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