This is an ancient English surname, although one of pre 7th century Norse-Viking origins. It derives from the word "gulr" and in medieval times was a nickname for a person who in some way was thought by his friends and neighbours to resemble the bird. The famous etymologist, the later Professor P H Reaney suggests that the literal meaning as a nickname was pale or wan, but a more logical explanation would be rapacious as the gull was known for its speed and the fierceness of its disposition. Unfortunately with nickname surnames unless one was actually present when the name was handed out, the precise meaning has to be an estimation based upon experience of many similar names.What is certain is that the surname is one of the earliest recorded with Alured Gulle appearing in the tax registers known as Feet of Fines for the county of Essex in the year 1200. This was in the first year of the reign of King John of England (1199 - 1216). This king has long had a bad press because of his use of tax collectors, and losing the crown jewels crossing the Wash. This ignores the fact that most of his money was collected to bail out his brother, the famous Richard, the Lionheart. Other recordings from this early date in history include Geoffrey de Gull in the Assize Rolls of Lincoln, in the year 1218, whilst Richard le Gul appears in the Hundred Rolls of the landowners of Oxford in the year 1279.
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