Recorded as Isabell, Isbell and Isbill, this interesting surname is of early medieval English origin. It is one of a handful of surnames which were derived from the name of the first bearer's mother. In this case the derivation is from the female given name "Isabel", a variant of Elizabeth. Isabel (without surname) is noted in the register of St. Benet of Holme, Norfolk (1141). When, in the early 13th Century, the French King Philippe-Auguste married Elisabeth of Hainault, he asked her to adopt the name "Isabella", which she did, thus making it a popular name throughout Europe. The surname is first recorded in the early 13th Century (see below), and can also be found as Isabel and Isbill. William Isabel is noted in the 1275 Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire, and John Isbell is listed in the 1379 Poll Tax Returns of Yorkshire. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Ann Isbell and Thomas Brickell, on November 16th 1617, at St. Antholin's, Budge Row; and the christening of Richard, son of Richard and Mary Isbell, on September 28th 1690, at St. Andrew's, Holborn. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Isabelle, which was dated 1202, in the "Early Charters of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, London, 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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