This surname of English, French, Portuguese, German, Polish and Jewish origin was a baptismal name 'the son of Daniel', meaning God is my Judge. It was a popular 13th century font name. The major factor influencing the popularity of the given name was undoubtedly the dramatic story in the Book of Daniel, recounting the prophet's steadfast adherence to his religious faith. The name was also borne by a 2nd century Christian martyr and by a 9th century hermit, the legend of whose life was popular among Christians during the Middle Ages, and these had a minor additional influence on the adoption of the Christian name. Early records mention Eudo Daniel, 1121, and Walter Danyel appears in the year 1268. John Danyeles was documented in 1319, and Matthew Danel in 1327. Alicia Daniel was documented in the year 1373 in the County of Yorkshire. Beatrice Danyell of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Buried. Sarah Daniel, St. Dionis Backchurch, London in 1689. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Originally the coat of arms identified the wearer, either in battle or in tournaments. Completely covered in body and facial armour the knight could be spotted and known by the insignia painted on his shield, and embroidered on his surcoat, the draped garment which enveloped him. Between the 11th and 15th centuries it became customary for surnames to be assumed in Europe, but were not commonplace in England or Scotland before the Norman Conquest of 1066. They are to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086. Those of gentler blood assumed surnames at this time, but it was not until the reign of Edward II (1307-1327) that second names became general practice for all people. A family by the name of Daniell traced their descent from Robert Danyers who was involved in transactions concerning land in Lymm, Cheshire in the reign of Henry III (1216-72). The name is not recorded as Danyell until the early 15th century, and the form Danyers may well be of different origin, although records do not make this clear.
Most of the European surnames in countries such as England, Scotland and France 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.
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