Recorded as Seiler, Sieler, Sailor, Seyler, Seiller, Seilmann, (German), and in England as Saylor, as well as possibly other forms, this is a surname of pre 7th century German origins. It is or was, occupational, and was first recorded in the medieval period. It derives from the ancient word 'seil' meaning a rope, and describes a ropemaker. However as ropes were used more and more in shipping, it maybe that by association a person who sailed using ropes became a sailor. The name is also Ashkenasic, where is is thought that the name may be an anagram of Israel, but this seems at best unlikely. Occupational surnames were amongst the earliest to be created as one of the simplest forms of identication was and is to call a person after the name of the job that they perform. Such surnames only became hereditary when a son followed his father into the same line of business. If he didnt, then he would sometimes be called after both the job he did, and his fathers as well. In this case the earliest recording that we can find is that of Jakob der Seiler of Freiburg in the year 1291, and Martin Seilmann of Ihringen in 1531.
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