Last name: Campbell

This ancient Scottish name has its origins in a Gaelic nickname "Caimbeul", meaning "wry (or crooked) mouth", from "dam", bent or crooked, and "beul", mouth. That it was originally a nickname can be seen by a charter of 1447, which records Duncan le Cambeli, the first Lord Campbell, the "le" being the Scottish "lie", meaning "so called", or "known as". A sizeable group of early European surnames were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. These were given in the first instance with reference to occupation, or to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. Clan tradition has it, that the Campbells were originally known as "Clana Duibhne" or "O'Duine", from one Diarmid O'Duine of Lochow. About 1390, Duncan Campbell witnessed a charter by Duncan, Earl of Levenax, and is believed to be the first namebearer to introduce a "p" into the name, influenced by the erroneous theory that "Cam(p)bell" comes from the Norman-French "de Campobello" i.e., "of the beautiful plain". Campbell is the family name of the hereditary Dukes of Argyll, dating from 1445, and their Coat of Arms is described thus: "Quarterly, first and fourth, gyronny of eight gold and black, the Crest being a boar's head couped gold". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gillespic Cambel, which was dated 1263, in the "Exchequer Rolls of Scotland", during the reign of King Alexander 111 of Scotland, 1249 - 1286. 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.

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