This interesting surname is widespread in both Ireland and England and is of Norman descent, a metonymic occupational name for a swineherd, deriving from the Old French "pourcel" meaning piglet. The Irish Purcells are found mainly in Counties Kilkenny and Tipperary. The picturesque ruined castle of Loughmoe, the seat of the head of the family, is a well known landmark near Thurles in Co. Tipperary. Though Norman, the Purcells did not come to Ireland until some years after the Anglo-Norman invasion of 1172, when they became adherents of the great Butler (Ormond) family.Early recordings of the surname in England include Ralph Purcel (1159) in the Pipe Rolls of Staffordshire, and William Purcell (1230) in the Pipe Rolls of Leicestershire. Church Records list the marriage of Watec Purcell, which appears in the Register of St. Nicholas Acons, London, and the marriage of James Purcell to Elizabeth Norman in Cork in 1681. A Coat of Arms granted to a Purcell family is a barry wavy of six silver and red, on a black bend three silver bears' heads couped. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gaufridus Porcellus, which was dated 1130, in the "Pipe Rolls of Surrey", during the reign of King Henry 1, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. 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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