This unusual name is of Old French, Norman, origin and derives from the female personal name 'Eloise', introduced into Britain by the Normans in the forms 'Heluis, Helois'. The name is ultimately of Old German origin, from 'Heilwidis', composed of the elements 'heil', hale, sound, healthy, with 'widi(s)', wide. The personal name is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Helewis', in Norfolk, and the Gloucestershire Pipe Rolls of 1160 record one Heilewisa Extranea. The development of the surname includes William Helewys (1297, Cornwall), Thomas Helwys (1379, Yorkshire) and Thomas Ellwes (1625, ibid.).The modern surname can be found as Elwes, Elwess and Elves. The marriage of John Elves and Margaret Holloway was recorded at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London, on June 15th 1606. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Helewis, which was dated 1274, The Essex Hundred Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 1, 'The Hammer of the Scots', 1272-1307. 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.
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