This English surname of APRILE was originally derived from the month of April, brought into England in the wake of the Norman Invasion of l066 and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form APRILIS. This was a reference to the opening of buds and flowers in the spring and was used as a given name for someone born, baptised or officially registered in April or for having some other connection with this month. The name is also spelt AVRILL and ABRILL. There are many instances of the name recorded in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, mainly documented in the Cambridge area. Early records of the name mention John Avenel, 1273 County Cambridge. Elena Avenel, County Oxford, 1273. William Averill of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Richard Treat married Mary Averill in London in the year 1626. Baptised. Ann Averill, St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1664. The name was taken early to Scotland, where the first of the name on record appears to be Robertus Avenel, who witnessed charters in the reigns of David I and William the Lion. He received from David I grants of Upper and Lower Eskdale, and was a generous benefactor to the Abbey of Melrose, bestowing on the monks of that house a large portion of his lands in Upper Eskdale. Some time after 1175, he became a humble monk in that house, and died there in 1185. For some eighty years the family was prominent in the history of Scotland. It ended in the direct line in Roger Avenel who died in 1243, and his daughter and heiress married Henry de Graham of Abercorn, into whose hands the estate passed. Most of the European surnames were formed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The process had started somewhat earlier and had continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the tenth and eleventh centuries people did not have surnames, whereas by the fifteenth century most of the population had acquired a second name. The name is also spelt AVENELL and AVERILL. 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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