This interesting surname has three possible origins. Firstly, it may be of Old Scandinavian origin, as a locational name from West and East Keal, near Spilsby in Lincolnshire, recorded as "Westrecale" and "Estrecale" in the Domesday Book of 1086. This placename is derived from the Old Norse "kiolar", keel, ridge. Secondly, the name may be of Anglo-Saxon origin, from Keele, near Newcastle-under-Lyme in Staffordshire, which appears as "Kiel" in the Pipe Rolls of 1169. The derivation for this placename is the Olde English "cy-hyll", composed of "cy", cow and "hyll", hill. Finally, Keel is a variant of Keeler, an occupational name for a boatman or boatbuilder, from the Middle English "kele", ship, barge, from the Middle Dutch "kiel". The surname is first recorded in the late 13th Century (see below). The Oxford University Register for 1579 lists one Sebastian Keele of Buckinghamshire, and George Keel was a convicted Monmouth rebel, who was transported from Taunton to the Barbadoes in 1685. A Coat of Arms was granted to a Keel family in London, which is divided quarterly, crenellee silver and black, in the first quarter a crescent of the second. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Kele, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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