This surname has two origins; firstly, it may be of early medieval English origin, a metronymic surname developed from the female given name "Helen", itself coming from the Greek personal name "Helene" meaning the bright one. The popularity of the name is due in part to St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great; according to legend she is said to have been the daughter of a British king. Secondly, it may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, a topographical name for a dweller by the alder(s), deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "elle(r)n" meaning elder-tree. The surname dates back to the early 14th Century (see below), and early recordings include Robert atte Ellene (1332) in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. Variations in the spelling of the surname include Ellens, Ellings, Hellens, and Hellins. London Church Records list the christenings of Elline Ellines on February 1st 1573 at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, and of John, son of Richard Ellins, on December 4th 1612 at St. Bride's, Fleet Street. Edward Ellins married Mary Gostly in 1692 at St. Augustine's, Watling Street. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Helyns, which was dated 1332, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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