This patronymic Eastern European surname derives from the Greek "Elias", itself from the Hebrew "Eliyahu" meaning "Jehovah is God". The name became popular among Christians in the Middle Ages as a result of its adoption by various early saints and martyrs including a 7th Century Bishop of Syracuse. The surname in its many spellings is recorded in all Eurpoean countries from Spain to Russia, and a few examples of the surname spelling include the French Elie and Helie, the Spanish Elias, the Hungarian Illyes, and the East European and Russian patronymics Ilyushkin, Iltchenko, and Iltchev. Almost all the early medieval recordings are in England and examples from these charters and rolls include William Elis, who was entered in the documents relating to the Danelaw, in the year1202, and Robert Elys or Helys, who was listed in a Kalendar of Documents in Essex, circa 1250. The first recorded spelling of the name is that of William Elyas, which was dated 1200, in the "Poll Tax Returns Records of Yorkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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