This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is from a topographical name for someone who lived in a rough hut, similar to the type normally occupied by animals, derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "selle", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "(ge)sell". Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. In many cases the name may have been in effect an occupational name for a herdsman. The surname, in some cases, may be an Anglicization of the Hungarian Szell, from a topographical name for someone who lived in a spot exposed to the wind, derived from the Hungarian "szel" meaning wind. The modern surname can be found as Sell, Selle, Sells and Zell(e). Recordings from London Church Registers include the marriages of John Sell and Mary Stowe on June 24th 1582, at Tottenham, and of Edward Sell and Anne Clemence on June 28th 1624, at St. Giles Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Humfrey ater Selle, which was dated 1296, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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