This unusual English surname recorded in the spellings of Pill, Pell, Piller, Pillers and Pillar, has three distinct possible origin sources. It may be of pre 10th century Old French origin, and as such introduced by the followers of William, The Conqueror after the Invasion of 1066. If so it was a nickname for an officer of the law whose job it was to seize the assets of debtors in default of payment, the modern bailiff. The derivation, in this instance, is from the French "pilleur", meaning plunderer, and a quotation from the medieval directory "Promptorium Parvulorum",states that "Pylowre, or he that pelyth other men, as cachpolls or odyre lyk; pilator, depredator". Early examples of the surname from this source include: Roger le Pilur in the 1246 Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire, where he was a witness The second possibility is again of French origin, from residence by a pillar. Quite what sort of 'pillar' in unclear, but is possibly a reference to a steep hill. Finally, the surname may be of Olde English origin, from residence by a 'pile', a stream or creek, and deriving from the pre 7th Century word "pyll". Early examples from this source include Hugh de la Pille of Somerset in 1225, and John atte Pelle of Sussex in the Subsidy Rolls of 1332. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Robert de la Pulle, which was dated 1221, in the rolls of Worecestershire. This was during the reign of King Henry 111 of England, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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