Recorded in the spellings of Overal, Overall, Overel, Overell, Oveal, Ovill and others, this is an English medieval surname. It is topographical and describes someone who lived at the upper hall. This may be a reference to a building at the top of the town, or to a building which contained an upper story, at a time when few did. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th century word "ufera" meaning over or above, and hall or heal, which both describe a central building or manor house, a hall.Topographical surnames were among the earliest created since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names. It is said that the spelling as Ovell and Ovill is relatively popular in the South East of England and specifically the counties of Kent, Sussex and Surrey. Among the sample recordings in Kent are the christening of Daniel Ovell on November 15th 1581 at St. Mary the Virgin, Dover and the marriage of Nathaniell Ovill and Jane Kye on January 13th 1629 at St. George the Martyr, Canterbury. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Oueral. This was dated 1217, in the calendar of the Patent Rolls, for the county of Yorkshire. This was 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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