Recorded in a number of spellings including Vial, Viall, Vitall, Vittle, Viel, and Vyel, in these spellings the name is regarded as being English, but one of Roman origins. It is or rather was, an early personal name of endearment and derives from the Latin word "vitalis", a derivative of "vita", meaning life, or perhaps pertaining to life. It was introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066 in the Old French forms of Vitel and Viel, and as such it became popular with Christians during the religious revival period of the 12th century, as a symbol of their belief in eternal life. As Vitalis it was a name borne by a dozen of the early saints, but in particular is associated with St Vitus, who was regarded as the patron of the fight against leprosy, the nervous tremour known as the St Vitus dance, being named after him. The early surname development included such recordings as Richard Viel of Devonshire in the register of the Knights Templar in 1194, John Vitell of Sussex in the Subsidy Tax rolls of 1207, Henry Vyel of Worcestershire in the Hundred Rolls of 1275, and Thomas Vyall of Suffolk in the Hearth Tax register of 1574. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Radulfus Vitalis. This was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book for Devonshire, during the reign of King William Ist of England, 1066 - 1086. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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