Recorded in a wide variety of spellings, from the first recording of Plowell and Plaell, to Playle, Plaile, and Playhill, this is an English locational surname. It originates from a place probably called Plow Hill, although no such place is now to be found in any of the gazetters.The nearest similar spelling being Plowland, a hamlet in the East Riding of Yorkshire. 'Lost' villages are a phenomenon found throughout the British Isles. The introduction of sheep farming in medieval times lead to the abandonment of many villages, whilst others have disappeared through plague, encroachment, and even occasionally, war. Some five thousand, or about 8% of all British surnames, are believed to originate from these 'lost' places, of which the only reminder in the 20th century, is the surname, often as with this one, in myriad and sometimes unexplainable forms. The surviving early church registers of London give clues as to the development of the surname, but sadly they do not explain where the place of origin existed These recordings include Mark Plowell, a witness at St Andrews church, Holborn, on December 27th 1598, and later Robert Plaell who married Sissy Woodnot, at the church of St Katherines by the Tower (of London), on May 6th 1606. Other recordings include Robert Playle at St Andrews, Enfield, on September 12th 1627, Sarah Playhill who married by civil licence on July 3rd 1705, and Samuel Plail, a witness at St Leonards, Shoreditch, on February 17th 1811.
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