This very old and widely distributed surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two distinct possible sources, the first and most likely being as a topographical name from residence by or on a hill, derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hyll", hill. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man- made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages; in this case especially, because every small district had its rising ground called "the hill", and the surname is therefore extremely popular in every area of the country. The "s" of the plural form of the name, Hills, represents a contracted form of the Olde English genitive case, denoting "of the hill". Early examples of the name from this source include: William attehil (Cambridgeshire, 1260); Matilda Hilles (Somerset, 1327); and Thomas del Hill (Yorkshire, 1379). In some cases, the name Hills may be a patronymic form of the surname from the medieval personal name "Hill(e)", itself a short form of various Germanic compound given names with the first element "hild", battle, strife, such as Hildebrand or Hilliard, or of Hilary, from the Latin "Hilarius", from "hilaris", cheerful, glad. One Ismale Hills was listed as living in Elizabeth City in the Virginia Colony in February 1623. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert del Hil, which was dated 1191, in the "Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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