This long-established surname belongs to that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These nicknames were originally given with reference to a variety of personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, and mental and moral characteristics. The derivation, in this instance, is from the Middle English "lele", itself coming from the Old French "leial", loyal, trustworthy, used to denote a loyal personal, one faithful to obligations. The ultimate origin of the word is the Latin "legalis", from "lex", law, obligation. The surname was introduced into Britain in the years following the Norman Conquest (1066), and first appears on record as "Leleman" - William Leleman (the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire, 1297). In the modern idiom the surname is variously spelt: Leal(e), Leel(e), Leil, Leall(e) and Leile. On September 2nd 1576, Elyzabeth, daughter of Henrye Leell, was christened at Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, and on November 1st 1729, the marriage of Mary Leal to William Dore took place at Arreton, on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire. A Coat of Arms granted to the Leal family is a red shield with six silver crescents, three, two, and one, a bend gobonated gold and azure. A sceptre entwined with a serpent between two wings all proper emerging out of a ducal coronet, forms the Crest. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Andrew Leal, treasurer of the Church of Aberdeen, which was dated 1479, in the "Episcopal Register of Glasgow", during the reign of King James 111 of Scotland, 1460 - 1488. 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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