This surname ELSEY dates in England from the 7th century. The name was originally spelt Helias, from the Hebrew Elijah. In England the Old English spelling was Aelfsige, meaning victory and during the middle ages it was a very popular font name for a girl baby. Ala (without surname) was recorded in the year 1208 in County Sussex, and appears to be the first of the name on record. Ela (without surname) was documented in the year 1208, and William Elle appears in 1209 in County Lincolnshire. Following the crusades in Europe in the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries, a need was felt for a family name to replace the one given at birth, or in addition to it. This was recognized by those of noble birth, and particularly by those who went on the Crusades, as it added prestige and practical advantage to their status. 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. Other records of the name mention Helias (without surname) who was recorded in the year 1350 in London and Willelmus Helis was documented in the year 1370 in County Somerset. Roger Ellison (smyth) of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Later instances of the name mention David Elyse of County Flint who was listed in the Wills at Chester in 1621. Nathaniel Elkins married Isabella Els at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in the year 1762. William Else and Margaret Saul were wed at the same church in the year 1785. 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.
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