Recorded in the spellings of Ellar, Eller and Ellor, and 'related' to the locational surnames Ellerby, Ellerker, Ellershaw, Ellerton, Ellerey, and others, this is both a German and Northern English, and specifically Yorkshire, surname of unusual and uncertain origins. It was probably introduced into England, but as a word only by the Anglo-Saxon settlers after the 5th century a.d., whether it was re-introduced by German engineers responsible for the draining of the Vale of York in the 15th century is open to conjecture. The name means the 'low lying ground' and is claimed to originate from places in the Rhine Valley, which themselves have developed their name from the old river name of 'Elera' once used in that area. If it is complicated upto that point, it becomes more so now. 'Elera' is a Celtic or Olde English word which seems to have been 'imported' into Northern Germany. So the possibility remains that nameholders may have originated in England, moved to Germany at some point in ancient history where they left their mark in their name, before returning back to England at various times over the past fifteen hundred years! The place name surnames all mean 'low lying ground' plus the various suffix such as 'bi' meaning farm, 'tun', a place or farm, and 'ey', an island. Early examples of the surname recordings in both England and Germany include Prior de Ellerton of York in the Hundred Rolls of the year 1273, John de Ellerker, also of York, in the eighth year of the reign of King Edward 11nd (1315), and Peter Eller of Limburg, Germany, in 1578. Other examples all from Yorkshire, are Isabell Ellor of Brompton by Sawdon, Yorkshire, in 1576, John Eller of Osmotherley, on February 2nd 1623, and Stephen Ellar, whose son also called Stephen, was born in Whitby on January 7th 1655.
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