Although members of this family ODLE made their name look Irish by writing it as O'Dell, they are, in fact of settler descent, their common ancestor having come to Limerick from England in the Elizabethan Plantation of Munster in the 16th century.
In England, where the name was pronounced Odle, it derived from Wodell and Wodehull and belonged to the Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire region. The surname of DELL was an Old English name 'local at the dell', dweller at the deep hollow or vale.
Early records of the name mention Israeli Dell and Elizabeth Wildblood, married at St.James, Clerkenwell, London in 1651.
Harden Dell and Elizabeth Chamberlain married at St.Georges, Hanover Square, London in 1777.
A notable member of the name was Ethel Mary Dell (1881-1939) the English novelist, born in Streatham, London. As a writer of light romantic novels, she enjoyed tremendous vogue in the years between the wars. Her books include 'The Lamp in the Desert' (1919) 'The Black Knight' (1926) and 'Sown Among Thorns' (1939). Families acquired a place name as a surname under three different sets of circumstances. Either the man lived or worked in, on or near some topographic formation or landscape feature, either natural or artificial or he formerly lived in a village, town or city and acquired the reputation of being from that place. Finally he owned or was lord of the village or manor designated. In the overwhelming majority of cases it is impossible to say whether a remote ancestor owned the manor or had merely once lived in that place. However, it is safe to say that in most cases a manor or village name merely identifies the place where the original bearer of the name formerly resided.
The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. It has long been a matter of doubt when the bearing of coats of arms first became hereditary and it was not until the Crusades that Heraldry came into general use. Men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way.
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