This unusual and interesting name is of Medieval English origin and is found particularly in the south east of England. It is an occupational surname for a boatman or boatbuilder, derived from the Middle English "Kele", meaning ship, or barge as in the "Keeler", a barge much used in the south and eastern regions for navigating shallow rivers. The Middle English word was influenced by the Old Dutch "Kiel", rather than directly deriving from the Olde English pre 7th Century "ceol". Anne Keeler was christened on the 10th March 1593 at Boughton under Blean, Kent and the marriage of Henry Keeler to Elizabeth Russell was recorded on the 15th January 1681 at St. James's, Dukes Place, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Petter Keeler, married Tamjen Harris, which was dated 25th June 1551, Willesborough, Kent, during the reign of King Edward VI, The Boy King, 1547 - 1553. 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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