Recorded as Sole, Soul, Soul, Soles, and possibly others, this is an English and sometimes French surname. It has at least two distinct and possible origins. The first is residential deriving from the pre 7th century word "sol", which oddly means muddy, and found in the village name of Soles in the county of Kent. Residential surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognizable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages, although locational names were chiefly given as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere.Early examples of the surname taken from surviving rolls and charters include William de la Sole of Sussex, in 1207; Hamo de Soles of Kent, in 1242; and Thomas atte Sole of Surrey, in 1294. The second source of the surname is the Old French word "sol or soul", from the Latin word "solus", meaning alone. Hence it was given as a nickname either to an unmarried person, or to a solitary individual or perhaps given the robust humour of those Chaucerian times, the reverse. Geofrey le Soule was recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Essex in 1274, whilst William Sole (1741 - 1802) was a botanist of note whose chief work was entitled "Menthae Britannicae". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Osbert Sole, which was dated 1203, in the "Curia Regis Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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