Recorded in several forms as shown below, this is an English surname. It is however of Norman-French origin, and was introduced into England after the Conquest of 1066. It is one of the metronymic forms of the surname "Ell", which derives from the Norman female given name Ela, Ella or Ala, adopted by the Normans from the Old German "Alia", derived from "alja", all, entire, whole. This was a fairly popular female personal name in England from the Conquest until the mid 14th Century, and is recorded as "Ela, in the Essex Curia Rolls of the same year and as "Elia" in the Feudal Aids Records of Surrey for 1346.The modern surnames spellings which include Ells, Elce, Ellse and Else are metronymics from the personal name, derived from the name of the first bearer's mother; metronymics are rare because most of European society was patriarchal during the formation of surnames. The marriage of Charles Else and Allyce Wylforde was recorded at St. Giles, Cripplegate, in London, on May 14th 1593. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Elle, which was dated 1221, in the "Records of the Abbey of Ely", Cambridgeshire, 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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