This name, derived from the Old English Christian name Ellis or Elias, appears in Dublin as Elys in 1282, and occurs frequently in Irish records in every subsequent century; it has never been closely identified with any particular area and is now found mainly in Dublin and many parts of Ulster. Ireland was one of the earliest countries to evolve a system of hereditary surnames. They came into being fairly generally in the 11th century, and indeed a few were formed before the year 1000. Early records of the name mention Helias (without surname) documented in the year 1150 in London. Edward Ellis was recorded in County Oxford in the year 1200. Robert Ellison (smythe) of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Ellis Pigot of Didsbury, Manchester, was listed in the Wills at Chester in the year 1597. Ellis Pollard and Johanna Chapman were married in London in 1458. The name was taken early to Scotland by settlers, and John Heles, burgess of Dundee, appears to be the first on record. John Elleis appears in Aberdeen in the year 1522. Richard Eleis, rendered to the Exchequer, the account of the baillies of the burgh of Jedburgh in 1563. Andrew Elleis was a notary public in Kirkwall in the year 1634. The name was originally from the medieval given name Elis meaning 'Jehovah is God' and was originally borne by a biblical prophet, but its popularity among Christians in the Middle Ages, was a result of its adoption by various early saints, as for example a 7th century bishop of Syracuse and a 9th century Spanish Martyr. In Wales this surname seems to have absorbed forms derived from the Welsh personal name Elisedd, meaning one who was kindly and benevolent. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
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