Underhill

Underhill - what does Underhill surname mean?

Recorded in the spellings of Underhill, Undrill, and Undrell, this is a medieval descriptive and usually topographical English surname. Like Townsend, for one who lived at the end of the town, Holloway for one who lived by a road which passed through a cutting, and Underwood, one who lived by the edge of a wood, this surname in its various forms describes a person who lived at the bottom of a hill, or perhaps in its shadow. Either way it is one of the earliest recorded with William Underhill of Bedford appearing in the Hundred Rolls of that county in 1273. Other recordings include those of John Underhelde in the Close Rolls of King Edward 1st in 1294, Sarah Undrell who married Francis Lee at Westminster, in 1625, and Elissabeathe (as spelt) Undrill, whose daughter also spelt Elissabeath, was christened at the Parish Church, Kensington, in 1646. Topographical names were amongst the first to be created, as the easiest form of identification amongst the small communities of the medieval period, was to call people by the name of the most prominent feature in their locality. Spelling being atbest erratic and local dialects very thick, lead to the development of alternative or `sounds like` spellings.

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