Recorded as Steele, Steel, Stell and Stelle, and the patronymics Steeles and Steels, this is an Anglo-Scottish surname. It has several possible origins. The first is from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "style", meaning steel, and an occupational nickname for skilled man who worked with iron and steel. Secondly and again a nickname, it may have described someone who was as hard as steel, or "true as steel". Thirdly it can be locational from places called Steele or Steel in Ayrshire, Berwickshire and Dumfrieshire in Scotland, and Northumberland, Westmorland and Shropshire in England. Examples of these include Steel in Northumberland, recorded as "Le Stele" in the Assize Court Rolls of 1269, and in Shropshire as Stile in the Domesday Book of 1086. The placenames have nothing to do with "steel", deriving from the ancient word "stigol", meaning a stile. Early church registers recordings include examples such as the marriage of John Steel and Mary Bushell on August 31st 1668, and the marriage of Henry Steels and Agnes Clements on April 6th 1682, at St. James', Duke's Place. A coat of arms associated with the name has the blazon of a silver shield charged with a black and ermine bend chequy between two red lions' heads erased, on a blue chief three gold billets. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Stel. This was dated 1206, in the Pipe Rolls of Oxfordshire, during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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