Recorded in an estimated fifty forms Abeille, Label, Labell, Labelle, Labeuil, Labeil, Labeille, Laible, Lebel, Lebell, Lebeau (France), Labell, Libell, Lebell, Beal and Bell (English), de Bell (Belgium), Belli and Bello (Italian), and many others, this is a surname which in most cases is of Roman or later French origins. It probably has two origins, both nicknames. The first is from "abeille", a word which has or had, the literal or transferred meaning of "busy bee", and hence was given to a good worker, or perhaps a good person, one who got on with life, whilst the second is from the word "beau". From the pre 10th century Olde French word "bel" but ultimately the Roman (Latin) "bellus", meaning fair or lovely, it was used to describe a handsome man, or in some cases, and given the robust humour of the medieval period, the reverse! In England from the 16th century the surname has specific associations with the Huguenot movement, and the entry into the British Isles of large numbers of protestants mainly from France. These people, who were often skilled artisans or professional soldiers, who fled the purges of the religious maniac King Louis X1V (1643 - 1715), after the repeal by him of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. This had previously given a measure of protection to non Catholics. Some fifty thousand entered Britain, and they became the driving force behind the Industrial Revolution from about 1700, when British manufacture lead the world for two centuries. Early examples of the surname recording include Robert le Bel of Holme in Norfolk in the pipe rolls of 1186, Sarah Libell, who married John Knights at St Mary in the Marsh, Norwich in 1676, and William Labeil, who was christened at St Anne Soho, Westminster, on February 4th 1700.
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