This interesting name is of Medieval English origin and is a variant of Ellis, itself from the given name Elis, popular in the Middle Ages. The derivation of this surname is from the Greek "Elias" and the Hebrew "Eliyahu" meaning Jehovah is God, and its popularity was a result of its adoption by various early saints, for example, a 7th Century bishop of of Syracuse and a 9th Century Spanish martyr. The Welsh surname is thought to have derived from the personal name "Elisedd", itself from "elvs", meaning kindly, benevolent. In the modern idiom the variants include Ellis, Elis, Ellice, Eles, Elys, Heelis, Helis, and Elias. Amongst the sample recordings in London are the christenings of Abraham Elias on April 10th 1721 at St. Anne and St. Agnes, and David Elias on October 29th 1786 at St. Martin-in-the-Field, Westminster. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Elyas, which was dated 1200, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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.