This interesting name has two possible meanings, the first being that it is a patronymic form of the medieval name "Will", itself a diminutive of "William", which is of German origin. The accession of William the Conqueror to the throne in 1066 produced a wave of derivative names as a form of homage elevating this personal name to the position of highest popularity. In its present form it means son of William, which is itself composed of the Germanic elements "wil", will and "helm", protection. Alternatively, it could be a topographical name for someone who lived by a spring or a stream, from the West Saxon "wiell(a)" and the Olde English pre 7th Century "well(a)", Middle English "will". One John Wills, a feltmaker, aged 35 yrs., from Barnstaple, took an oath of Allegiance before Mr William Gourney of Dartmouth on February 20th 1634 prior to his emigration to the New World. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Walt Wille, which was dated 1207, in the "Curia Rolls of Norfolk", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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