From the Roman family name Paulus
, which meant "small" or "humble" in Latin. Saint
Paul was an important leader of the early Christian church, his story told in Acts in the New Testament
. His original Hebrew name was Saul
. Most of the epistles in the New Testament were authored by him.
Due to the renown of Saint Paul the name became common among early Christians. It was borne by a number of other early saints and six popes. In England it was relatively rare during the Middle Ages, but became more frequent beginning in the 17th century. A notable bearer was the American Revolutionary War figure Paul Revere (1735-1818), who warned of the advance of the British army. Famous bearers in the art world include the French impressionists Paul Cezanne (1839-1906) and Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), and the Swiss expressionist Paul Klee (1879-1940). It is borne by British musician Paul McCartney (1942-). This is also the name of the legendary American lumberjack Paul Bunyan.