This most interesting surname is of Old British and Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from either Exhall near Coventry or near Stratford, Warwickshire. The former placename appears as "Eccleshale" in the Anglo-Saxon Wills in 1002; while the latter is recorded as "Eccleshale" in the Saxon Cartulary in 710, and as "Ecleshell" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The placenames are composed of the initial elements "ecles", the Old British name for a church, from the Latin "ecclesia", and the Olde English pre 7th Century element "halh", a common placename element meaning "a corner, angle of land or a secret place, cave". The surname first appears in records in the early 13th Century (see below), while Robert Exall is mentioned in the Feet of Fines of Huntingdonshire in 1542. Other early examples from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Robert Exell and Ales Muggle on April 13th 1567 at St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury; the marriage of Frances Excell and Thomas Needler on November 5th 1663, at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate; and the marriage of John Excell and Ruth Hes, which took place on April 8th 1680 at St. James', Duke's Place. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard de Ecleshal, which was dated 1221, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Warwickshire", 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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