This uncommon and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called Odell or Woodhill near the town of Bedford in Bedfordshire. The placename is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Wadehelle", showing its derivation from the Olde English pre 7th Century "wad", woad (a plant collected for the blue dye that could be obtained from its leaves), with "hyll", hill. The place is subsequently recorded in the Pipe Rolls of the county of 1163 and 1193, as "Wahella" and "Wahull", respectively, showing Norman influence; the first recording of the surname, below, reflects this period of the spelling of the placename. After a century, the placename had reverted to the more Anglo-Saxon "Woodhull" (1276), and by 1494 was recorded as "Odyll". Early examples of the surname include: Simon de Wahull (1212, Kent); Walter de Wadhulle (1273, Bedfordshire); Robert de Wodhull (1314, Northamptonshire); and John Odyll or Odell (1545, Wiltshire). In London, the marriage of Thomas Odell and Susan Edwarde was recorded at All Hallows, Honey Lane, on September 10th 1557. An early Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name depicts three red crescents on a silver shield, the Crest being a red eagle displayed. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon de Wahella, which was dated 1195, in the "Pipe Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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