This Cumberland surname is of Norse-Viking origin, and derives from the pre 9th Century Scandinavian "Fjall", describing one who lives on a mountain. The name can also be locational from one of the various Northern villages such as Fell, Fellside and Fellgate. There is also a possibility that in a few cases the name can be a metonymic for a Fellmonger, a dealer in skins. What is certain is that no less than eight Coats of Arms ave been granted to the Fells, and that of the nine notable namebearers recorded in the "National Biography", eight were Christian divines! This ecclesiastical list includes Leonard Fell, who was imprisoned as a Quaker and for refusing to pay tithes, and on one occasion when being robbed by a highwayman, so impressed this "gentleman of the road" with his Christian views, that his goods were returned. Among the less fortunate Fells was Henry Fell; he was one of the earliest American settlers, but is recorded as being "dead in Virginia since April last" (February 16th 1623). The early recordings of the name include: Robert of the Fell in the 1421 Friary Rolls of Yorkshire; Finlay Fell, recorded as being a butcher in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1583; whilst in 1545, Thomas Fell married Margaret Wright at Ulverston, the epicentre of the surname. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger de Fel, which was dated 1318, in the "Pipe Rolls of Cumberland", during the reign of King Edward 11, known as "Edward of Caernafon", 1307 - 1327. 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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