This most interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and originated either as a metonymic occupational name for a maker of wheels for carts, or for use in spinning and other manufacturing processes, or occasionally, as a topographical name for a dweller by a wheel house. In both instances, the surname is derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "hweol, hweowol", Middle English "whele", a wheel. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary, while 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. The surname itself first appears in the late 13th Century (see below), while another early recording of the surname is that of one Hugh atte Wheole, mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls of Somerset in 1327. Variants of the surname in the modern idiom include Wheel, Wheele, Wheels, Wheale and Wheals, while the original element is also found in the surnames Wheeldon, Wheeler, Wheelhouse and Wheelwright. Recordings of the name from English Church Registers include the christening of John, son of Jacob and Hannah Wheal at Aldermaston, Berkshire, on November 21st 1742, and of William, son of Thomas and Esther Wheal on November 15th 1786 at Bath Abbey, Bath, Somerset. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Isabella del Wele, which was dated 1297, in the "Minister's Account of the Earldom of Cornwall", Yorkshire, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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