This interesting surname usually has Roman origins, although the "modern" surname owes more to French influence during the medieval period. It derives from the Latin "Cornelius" meaning "horn", through the later French "corneille". The cathedral of St Cornelius in France was for many centuries a place of particular pilgrimage. In the middle ages however the name may have taken on a different meaning. "Corneille" described a crow, and hence the name and surname was probably a nickname for a talkative person! The name was introduced into England after the Norman Invasion of 1066, and it also spread rapidly across the whole of Northern Europe as far as Russia. The surname now has over fify spellings which range from basic forms such as Cornel and Quernel, to patronymics such as Nilles, Cornlissen, and Kornilyev. The earliest examples of the name recording are to be found in England. This was the first country to adopt hereditary surnames. Examples include William Corneille in the pipe rolls of Oxford for the year 1206, and Henry de Cornell who is mentioned in the Poll Tax Records of Staffordshire in 1229.Amongst the early settlers to the New England colonies of America, was a Fleming by the name of Pierre Cornille. In 1621 he was given special dispensation to emigrate to Virginia. His occupation is given as "wine dresser". The first recorded spelling of the family name anywhere in the world is shown to be that of Herbert Corneilla, which was dated 1148, in the charters of the county of Hampshire, during the reign of King Stephen of England, 1135 - 1154. 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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