Recorded in over forty spellings forms including Pearl, Perl, Perel, Perle, Perllman, Pearlman, Perles, Perlis, Perla, Perler, Perlinski, Perelson, Purl, Purle, and many others, this is a surname of Roman (Latin) origins. It derives from the word "perla" and in medieval times this was used as an occupational surname in most European countires for a trader in pearls and other precious stones. It has also been used as an ornamental name given to refugees, the derivation being from the ancient Hebrew female name "Margalit". This translates as pearl, and as such was also one of the personal and later surnames, introduced into Europe by Crusader Knights returning from the various attempts to free the Holy land from the Muslims in the 12th century. These names were often given to the children of the knights in memory of the father's pilgrimage on behalf of Christianity, even though these were always unsuccessful. It is unclear as to the first date of the use of the occupation as a surname, but certainly in England, which was the country which had the earliest developed system of surnaming. Early examples include Reginald Perle in the Oseney Rolls of Oxford as early as 1259, whilst Reginald Purl appears in the chartulary of the abbey of Whalley, Lancashire, in 1316. The name as Perllman or Pearlman is sometimes confused with the similar Pearman, a grower of pears, and it is possible that over the centuries the names have overlapped.
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