Recorded in several ways including Knellar, Kneller, Naylor, Nealler, Nellar and Neller, this ancient surname is English. It has two possible origins. The first is a topographic name for a dweller by a knoll, deriving from the Olde English pre 7th century word "cnylle". To this has been added the agent suffix '-er', which in some counties of England particulary the counties of Sussex and Kent, where this name seems to have originated, had the meaning of of the "dweller at", rather than a "worker at". Similar surnames are Brooker and Bridger, originally found only in this region of the country. The spelling as Neller appears in church registers from mid the 17th Century with as an example that on October 28th 1655 of John Neller, the son of Edward Neller, who was christened at Eastbourne, in Sussex. The second distinct possibility is that the name is occupational. If so it described a maker of nails. Here the derivation was from the pre 7th century Olde English word "nagel", meaning a nail, plus the agent suffix "-er". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Kneller. This was dated 1327, in the Subsidy Tax rolls of Sussex, during the reign of King Edward IIIrd, known as the Father of the English Navy, 1327 - 1377. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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