The ancient Greek female name 'Phyllis' which translates as 'the green branch' (Phylliclis) or the Roman 'Felicitas' now found as 'Felicity or the male Felix', are the origins of this surname. The personal names first appear in the 12th Century, Felicia, both a surname and a personal name being recorded in the Worcester Pipe Rolls of 1194, whilst Margaret Ffelys is recorded in the Suffolk Rolls for 1469, and may be the 'link' spelling to the modern surnames. These include Blythe Phillis who married John Bull on January 13th 1611, at St. Botolphs Church, Bishopgate, London and Joyce Phillise who married John Craftes at Clerkenwell on November 10th 1668. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of An Fillis, which was dated April 6th 1568, christened at the church of St. Lawrence Pountney, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Good Queen Bess, 1558 - 1603. 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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