This interesting surname is of Germanic origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, the surname may be an occupational name for a toll collector, from the German "zollner", toll collector, composed of the element "zoll", toll, duty, and the agent suffix "er", a person or thing that performs a specified action. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. Secondly, the surname may be a topographical name deriving from the Middle High German "selde", croft, and would have been given to an inhabitant of a croft.A croft being a hut with a small kitchen garden, but no agricultural land attached. Topographical names were some of the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Zollner, Zoellner, Zelner and Zellner, to Sollner, Sellner, Seldner an Soldner. Recordings of the surname from German Church Registers include: the christening of Valten, son of Ambrosius Zoellner, at Seifersdorf Leisnig, Leipzig, Sachsen, in 1495; the marriage of Margaretha Zellner and Jacob Wunscher on April 27th 1557, at Schonbrunn, Oberfranken, Bayern; and the marriage of Elizabeth Zelner and Jacob Schreiber at the same place, on January 26th 1592. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Margarethe Zollner, which was dated 1400, daughter of Iring and Sophie Zollner, who was born at Walchenfeld, Unterfranken, Bayern, Germany, during the reign of Rupert of the Palatinate, 1400 - 1410. 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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