Recorded as Keil, Keihl, Keilhau, Keilhauer, and possibly others, this is a medieval German surname. It originates either from one of the various places called Keil, or from living on a wedge of land known as a keil. We understand that the keel of a ship came from the same origin, and before the 15th century was also spelt keil. Locational surnames are usually "from" names. That is to say that they were names given to people either because they were citizens of a particular place, or because they came from it, and were most easily identified by being called after it. These residential surnames were amongst the earliest to be created, since land ownership has always been the first sign of nobility, stability, and old money. In this case the first recording or more likely the first surviving recording, is that of Johannes Keile or Keyle, of Merseburg, in the charters of that town in 1486, whilst Georg Keilhauer of Sanderslesben was recorded in the lists of that place in 1591.
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