Recorded as St. Hill, Sainthill, Santell, Hill and Hille, this distinguished surname is English. With over fifty entries in the "Dictionary of National Biography", and having no less than seventy-five Coats of Arms, it is of Olde English pre 7th century derivation. It has two completely distinct possible origins. The first and most obvious being a topographical name from residence by or on a hill or at a village called Hill or St Hill, the latter places being found in Sussex and Devonshire. The derivation in all cases is from the word "hyll", and requires no further explanation, although the St. Hill's do not refer to 'saints', but are a dialectual transposition of the Olde English word 'senet' which means a hill side cleared by burning . Natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. Early examples include William Atte hil of Cambridge in the Subsidy Rolls of 1260, and Thomas del Hill of Yorkshire in the Poll Tax rolls of 1379. However recent research indicates that many name holders may derive from the medieval personal and baptismal name "Hille". This is a semi nickname or short form of one of the many Anglo-Saxon compound names with the first element "hild", meaning battle or war, such as Hildebrand and Hilliard or the French 'hilaire' from the Latin 'hilaris' meaning 'cheerful'. These are all surnames and personal names in their own right. One of the 'first' of all Americans was Elizabeth Hill, recorded as born in 'Elizabeth Cittie, Virginia' before 1620. The earliest coat of arms is that of Sir Robert Hill in the time of King Henry V1 in 1430 was silver, a black chevron between three water bouchets. 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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