A form of the name of Eliam (friend of God). In Dryden's satire of Absalom and Achitophel it is meant for Sir Edward Seymour, Speaker of the House of Commons. (2 Samuel xxii. 34.)
Who can Amiel's praise refuse? Of ancient race by birth, but nobler yet In his own worth, and without title great. The Sanhedrim long time as chief he ruled, Their reason guided and their passion cooled.
Dryden: Absalom and Achitophel, i. 99–903.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894