Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is an English surname. It has three possible origins. The first is from a diminutive of the female personal name Elizabeth which was very popular in Medieval Europe. The name means "my God is my oath", from the Hebrew "Elishera". The second origin of the modern surname is from the nickname Lill or Lilie used for someone with particularly fair hair or skin. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th century "lilie", itself from the Latin "lilium". The third possible origin is locational, from either of the places called "Lilley" in Hertfordshire and Berkshire, or just possible from the town of Lille in France. The English place names mean "The clearing where flax was grown", from the word "lin", and "leah", a clearing. The modern surname can be found as Lill, Lille, Lilly, Lilley, Lillie, Lely and others. An early example of a recording is that of the marriage of Thomas Lilly and Ales Broughe, at St. Mildred Poultry, in the city of London, on April 23rd 1576. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan Lilie, which was dated 1247, in the Bedfordshire Assize Rolls, and during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, 1216 - 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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