This unusual and interesting name is a dialectual variant of the pre 10th century biblical given name Julian or Julius, which was borne by a number of early saints. The derivation is from the Latin "Iulianus", meaning hairy or downy, and was originally a Roman Clan name for a tribal family renowed for their long, flowing, locks, of which Julius Caesar was a member. The name was probably introduced into England by the French after the 1066 Norman Invasion, or perhaps by the later Crusaders on their return from the Holy Land. In medieval times the name was borne in the same form by women, hence the modern girls' name Gillian. In the modern surnames the spellings include Jell, Geal, Gell, and Gelle. In England the name attained such favour that Jack and Jill took the place of Godric and Godivu as the representatives of the sexes. Early examples of the surname recordings include at St. Annes church, Blackfriars, London, John Jeal was christened in 1682 and later Anne Geal was christened in 1699. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of John Jelle, which was dated 1296, in the "Subsidy Rolls of the county of Sussex". This was during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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