This famous English surname has several possible origins. It may derive from the French word "pel", introduced into the British Isles after the conquest of England in 1066. This was used to describe a boundary marker or post, although it was also used as a nickname for a tall, thin person! An early example from this latter source is the recording of Walter Pele at the Assize Court of Linclnshire in the year 1202. However the word can also be topographical and describe somebody who lived inside a palisade called a "piel".
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