Recorded in many forms including Estoile, Etoile, Detoile, Estrella, Stellino, Stell, Stella, Stelli, Stellman, Steljes, Stelljes, Stellin, Steele, Steel, Stell and Stelle, and found throughout Europe, this surname is generally, however spelt, of Roman (Latin) pre Christian origins. It derives from the word 'stella', meaning a star, although when used as a surname the name is certainly nothing to do with either 'star gazing' or inter planetary travel. It is locational, and describes a person who lived at the 'the house of the star'. Before the days of house numbers or house names, people had 'signs'. Today these signs when they exist at all, refer generally to hotels, inns, or sometimes a specific trade. However there are other possible sources and these include the Olde English pre 7th Century word "style", meaning steel, and an occupational name for one who worked with steel. It may also have originated as a nickname for one who was firm to the point of obstinacy, or one who was as hard and durable as steel. Finally the surname could also refer to a person who lived by a cross roads, but one with more than four 'arms', in effect a 'star'. Early examples of surname recordings from around Europe include Johann Stellman of Lubeck in the year 1330, Hieronymous Stella of Verona, in 1497, when he was a witness at the christening of his daughter Catarina, and later David van Stell, in a Dutch version. This was at Nieuwerkerk, Zeeland in 1777. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Robert Stel. This was dated 1206, in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Oxfordshire, England, during the reign of King John. He was known as "Lackland", a sort of 'in family' joke, because he was the younger son, and no expected to inherit. He reigned from 1199 - 1216, and received a very bad press. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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