This interesting surname is a dialectal variant of Overall, which is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is derived from a topographical name for someone who lived at the upper hall. The surname is composed of the Middle English (1200 - 1500) elements "overe, uvere", upper, from the Old English pre 7th Century "ufera" and the Middle English "hall", Old English "heall", a hall. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names. The modern surname can be found as Overal(l), Overel(l), Overill(l), Ovell, Ovill and Oveal and Ovell is very common in 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 Ovell 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, which was dated 1217, in the "Calendar of the Patent Rolls, Yorkshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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