This interesting and unusual surname, recorded in the spellings of Fill, Fille, Pfeil, Fiel, and Fyall, is from the late 12th Century. It has three distinct possible origins - all French. Firstly, the derivation may be from the Anglo-Norman French "viel", meaning "old", and originally given as a term of respect to an elderly gentleman, or perhaps as a distinguishing nickname to the elder of two bearers of the same given name. The surname from this source first appears in the latter part of the 12th Century, (see below).The surname may also have originated from Viel, the Northern Medieval French form of the Old French given name Vitel from the Latin "vitalis", vital or living. One, Viel Luuet appears in "Documents relating to the Danelaw", Lincolnshire, dated circa 1150, and a Richard Viel was noted in the 1194 "Pipe Rolls of Devonshire". Finally, Vile may have originated as a metonymic occupational name for a calf-herd from the Old French "veel", a calf. Thomas le Veel was noted in the 1296 "Subsidy Rolls of Sussex". The introduction of the spelling with a prefix of 'F' is dialectal, and examples include Sara Fyll at st Botolphs church, Aldgate, London, on June 29th 1566, Elizabeth Fille on May 25th 1573 at St Ann's Blackfriars, and Peter Fyall, christened at St Margarets, Westminster on March 19th 1681. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Le Viel, which was dated 1173, the pipe rolls of the city of London, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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