This rather unusual surname, with the variants Ekless and Ecles, found recorded in both England and Scotland, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of several places so called; Eccles in Lancashire, Norfolk, Kent, Berwickshire and Dumfriesshire. Eccles in Kent, recorded as "Aiglessa" in the Domesday Book of 1086, derives its name from the Olde English pre 7th Century "aec-laes" meaning "oak pasture". All the others are named with the British (pre-Roman) element "ecles", meaning a church, ultimately from the Greek "ekklesia", a gathering or assembly. Locational surnames were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. The surname is first recorded in Scotland in the latter half of the 12th Century (see below), and other early recordings include, Warin de Eccles, who was recorded in the 1212 Pipe Rolls of Kent, and Humphrey Eccles, of Dean, who appears in the Wills Records at Chester, dated 1603. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Adam de (of) Eccles, witnessed Charter in Melrose, which was dated circa 1170, in a "Catalogue of Ancient Scottish Seals", during the reign of King William, known as "The Lion" of Scotland, 1165 - 1214. 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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