This interesting surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and has two possible sources, both of which are topographical. Firstly, the surname may be from the Olde English pre 7th Century "stigol", steep ascent, from a derivative of "stigan", to climb, and would have been given to a "dweller near the steep ascent". Secondly, the surname may be for someone who lived by a stile, deriving from the Olde English "stigel", stile. A stile would have been a set of steps or rungs in a wall or fence to allow people, but not animals, to pass over. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. William de Stile and Richard del Stigele are noted in the 1229 Calendar of the Patent Rolls of Somerset. Elyas atte Stigle is listed in the Studies of Middle English Local Surnames, Surrey (1272). William ate Stegele is recorded in the 1296 Subsidy Rolls of Sussex. In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Stile, Styles, Steggall and Steggell, to Stickells, Stiggles, Stigell and Stygall. Recordings of the surname from Suffolk Church Registers include: the christening of Anna, daughter of Thomas Stegell, on May 13th 1599, at Ingham, and the marriage of Thomas Stigell and Ann Castor on October 5th 1742, at Hinderclay. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald atte Stighel, which was dated 1227, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Bedfordshire", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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