This is a confusing English, and sometimes Irish, surname. If English it is recorded in the spellings of Poland, Polland, Pollane, Pollin, Powland, Powlesland and if Irish generally as McPolin, Polin and Poland, although most spellings are also found in Ireland. Again for most nameholders the surname probably originates from the village of Poland, near the town of Odiham, in the county of Hampshire. If Irish it is often from the same source, but if not is from a Gaelic diminutive of the ancient name Paul, and first recorded in Ireland in the 17th century. The village called Poland has nothing whatsoever to do with the country of Poland. It is Olde English pre 7th century in origin, the derivation being from 'pol landa', meaning an area of agricultural land surrounded by lakes or pools, or possibly a place where 'poles' that is to say fencing poles were 'pollarded'. Most locational surnames were given to people after they left their original village and moved elsewhere. It was a simple form of identification, but as fewer than one in twenty of people before 1800 could even write their own name, it was hardly surprising that many variant forms developed. Early examples taken from surviving church registers include: Elenore Pollane of Bramley in Hampshire on November 6th 1581, this being the only recording in the home county before the 18th century, and Emmee Powland who married Henery Elliott at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on July 21st 1613. John McPolin was recorded in County Armagh, Ireland, in 1665, whilst Elizabeth Poland was recorded at St Dunstans on January 9th 1727, and Robert Powlesland married Mary Skipworth at St Pancras Old Church, in the city of London, on May 3rd 1860. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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