This interesting surname, with variant spellings Steele, Steel, Stell and Stelle, if of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has a number of possible sources. Firstly, it may derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century "style", meaning steel, and would have been a metonymic occupational name for a foundry worker or one who worked with steel. It may also have originated as a nickname for one who was firm to the point of obstinacy, or one who was able to absorb the rigours of life, "as hard and durable as steel", or for someone reliable "as true as steel". It may also be of locational origin, from places called Steele or Steel in Ayrshire, Berwickshire and Dumfrieshire in Scotland, and Northumberland, Westmorland and Shropshire in England. Examples of these are, Steel in Northumberland, recorded as "Le Stele" in the 1269 Assize Court Rolls, and in Shropshire as "Stile" in the Domesday Book of 1086. The placenames derive from the Olde English pre 7th Century "stigol", a stile, or steep ascent; hence, "a steep path up a ridge". Recordings from London Church Registers include: the marriage of John Steel and Mary Bushell on August 31st 1668, and the marriage of Henry Steel and Agnes Clements on April 6th 1682, at St. James', Duke's Place. A Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name is on a silver shield a black and ermine bend chequy between two red lions' heads erased, on a blue chief three gold billets, the Crest being a red lion's head erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Stel which 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 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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