This famous English surname has several possible origins. It may derive from the French word "pel", introduced into the British Isles after the conquest of England in 1066. This was used to describe a boundary marker or post, although it was also used as a nickname for a tall, thin person! An early example from this latter source is the recording of Walter Pele at the Assize Court of Linclnshire in the year 1202. However the word can also be topographical and describe somebody who lived inside a palisade called a "piel". From this origin developed the later concept of the Peel Tower, a tall defensive structure, and a relatively common feature of the countryside in the Border Country between England and Scotland. John de Pele of Lancashire in the year 1301, would seem to be from this source. Early interesting examples of the surname include: Henry Pele of Yorkshire in 1238, and Robert Peel of Nottinghamshire, in 1382. Amongst the many notable bearers of the name was John Peel of Cumberland (1776 - 1854), the legendary huntsman who maintained his own pack for over fifty years, and Sir Robert Peel (1788 - 1850), British statesman; and Conservative prime minister (1834 -1846) who founded the Metropolitan Police. A Peel coat of arms has the blazon of a silver field, charged with three sheaves of arrows, branded red; and on a blue chief, a gold bee volant. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Pele. This was dated 1199, in the Pipe Rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Richard 1st of England, and known as "Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading tostonishing variants of the original spelling.
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