Recorded in several spelling forms including Idel, Idle, Idill, and Idell, this interesting English and Scottish surname has a number of possible origins. The first and most likely is locational, from either the former village of Idle in the West Riding of Yorkshire, or from residence by or on 'an island'. In the context of a locational surname, 'an island' would probably not be ground surrounded by water, but an area of waste ground unsuitable for agriculture. This source could also apply to the Norman French word " idel or isle", introduced into Britain after the 1066 Invasion, and meaning an area of ground within (say) a forest. A third possible origin is that the name could be derived from the Olde English personal name of the pre 5th century 'Ydel or Ithell' meaning 'bountiful lord', and this certainly seems to apply to Scottish nameholders. The fourth possibility although we have not been able to identify a definate name holder in early records is as a nickname for an indolent person. If in fact any surnames were nickname based, given the robust humour of the medieval period, the meaning is probably reversed. Early examples of the name recordings include John del Idle of Kent in the year 1314, William Ydel of Elgin, Scotland, in 1343, and Matilda de Ydell, which was dated 1379, in the Poll Tax Returns for the county of Yorkshire. The first known recording of the name in any spelling is believed to be that of William Idel in the tax charters known as 'The feet of fines', for the county of Northampton, in 1199. This was during the reign of King Richard Ist of England, and known as 'Lionheart' 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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