This surname of HELANOR was of the baptismal group of surnames meaning the daughter of Alienor, a form of Helen, introduced into England by Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) the wife of King Henry II. The name was originally of uncertain origin, perhaps akin to HELANE (torch). This was the name of the mother of Constantine the Great, credited with finding the True Cross; according to legend she was of British origin, and the name was consequently popular in England during the Middle Ages. The name is also spelt Elen, Ellin, Hellen, Helen, Ellens, Ellings, and Hellens. Before the 1066 Conquest names were rare in England, the few examples found were mainly adopted by those of the clergy or one who had taken holy orders. In 1086 the conquering Duke William of Normandy commanded the Domesday Book. He wanted to know what he had and who held it, and the Book describes Old English society under its new management in minute detail. It was then that surnames began to be taken for the purposes of tax-assessment. The nobles and the upper classes were first to realise the prestige of a second name, but it was not until the 15th century that most people had acquired a second name. Early records of the name mention ALIENOR (without surname) who was recorded in Northumberland in the year 1202, and Richard Elyanor was recorded in County Suffolk in 1327. Richard Elynoreson appears in Leicestershire in 1375. Johannes Heleyn of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. 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. Later instances of the name include John Payne and Hanna Ellanor, who were married at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1669, and Thomas Ellen and Anne Cadby were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1791.
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