This Hebrew surname of SHAULL was originally a baptismal name 'the son of Saul' an ancient font name. SAUL (11th century BC) was the Old Testament ruler, a Benjamite, the son of Kish the first king elected by the Israelites. He conquered the Philistines, Ammonites and Amalekites, but became madly jealous of David, his son-in-law, and was ultimately at feud with the priestly class. A length David was anointed King and Saul fell in battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa. Perhaps for this reason, the given name was not particularly common in medieval times; hence the surname too is comparatively rare. A further disincentive to its popularity as a Christian name was the fact that the original name of St. Paul, borne by him while he was persecuting Christians, and rejected by him after his conversion to Christianity. It may in part have arisen as a nickname for someone who had played the part of the biblical king in a religious play. Other spellings of the name include SAULL, SAWLE, SAULLI, SAULLO, SHAULY, SHAULSON and SAWLE. Records of the name mention Ricardus filius Sawl, who was documented in London in the year 1198, and Ralph Saule was recorded in 1255 in Scotland. John Sawle appears in County Sussex in 1296. Johannes Sawle of Yorkshire was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Cecelia Saule, 1379 ibid. Later instances of the name include Arnald Saule of County Gloucestershire who registered at Oxford University in 1582 and Mary Saule was baptised at St. Michael, Cornhill, London in the year 1602. 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. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did.
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