This interesting surname with variant spellings Seal, Seale, Seel, Zeal, Zeale, etc., is a metonymic occupational name either for a maker of seals or signet rings, deriving from the Middle English, Old French "seal" meaning "seal", or a maker of saddles, deriving from the Old French "seele" meaning "saddle". It May also be topographical name for someone who lived by a sallow copse, deriving from the Old English "sele" meaning "sallow copse, hall". Finally, it may be a locational name from Seal in Kent from the Old English "sele". The surname dates back to the early 12th Century, (see below). Further recordings include Ralph de la Sele (1168) "The Pipe Rolls of Devon", Roger Sele (1198) "The Pipe Rolls of Norfolk", and Robert ate Sele (1332) "The Subsidy Rolls of Surrey". Church recordings include John, son of John Zeale who was christened on December 3rd 1553 in North Melton, Devon, Sara daughter of William Zeale was christened on February 24th 1577 in Knowstone, Devon and Gulielmus Zeale was christened on October 17th 1664 at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Hugh le Sele, which was dated 1113, Abstract of the Contents of the Burton Chartulary, during the reign of King Henry 1, "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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