Recorded in many forms including Vidal, Viale, Vial, Vitale, Vitali, Vialli, (Italian), Vitau, Vidal Viaux (French), Vidal, Vidall, and Vitall (English) Vidal (Portugese), and cognescent with the equally prolific Vito, Vidi, Vido, Vitalli, Vitelli (Italy), Veith, Veidt, Feidt (German) and many more, this surname was originally a personal name of Roman origins. It derives from either of the words 'vita or vitus', both meaning life, and altogether there are estimated to be over one hundred surname spellings recorded throughout Europe. Its popularity is said to originate from the martyrdom in the 3rd century a.d. of an obscure Christian saint, about whom very little is known. For equally obscure reasons he is said to be the patron saint of epileptics. A more likely explanation for the name popularity is its association with 'life'. This suggested hope at baptism, which may have been all that most people had in the period of history known as 'The Dark Ages'. This was particularly so when a life span of twenty years was normal, and people of forty were regarded as old. Another explanation is that the name was a Crusader import to much of Europe after the 12th century. This was a time when Christian knights and pilgrims to he Holy Land, would on their return home given their children names associated with the fathers journey. British records precede most of Europe by several centuries. The first known recording in any form may be that of William Viel in the Hundred Rolls of landowners in the county of Huntingdon, in 1273, John Vidle was a christening witness at St Mary Whitehouse, Stepney, on April 28th 1616, and Francis Vidal married Joane Ledunne at at St James church, Westminster, on July 10th 1682.
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