"Burel" was originally a coarse woven cloth of a reddish-brown colour, which was used for the manufacture of cushions, harness and capes. It is therefore reasonable to assume that most nameholders derive from this source, as with Alan Le Boreller in 1277. However, since the name may derive from either "Burel" or "Boureau", it is also possible that the name may be a nickname for one who was the official (local) court torturer, "Bourrer", translating as "to maltreat or torture!" Since the 12th Century the name has been prominent in Sussex, the early ironmasters of the district all being called "burrell", their descendants even today hold Knepp Castle, Grinstead and Ockenden House, Cuckfield. The name recordings include: Simon Borel, of Sussex, in 1296, and John Burelman, of London, in 1311. John Burrel, of Edinburgh, circa 1575 - 1636, was a famous goldsmith and poet, whilst Litellus Burrell (1753 - 1828) achieved the near impossible by rising from Private to Major General in the Indian Army. Amongst the early settler in the West Indies was Henry Burrell, who on December 3rd 1679, was recorded as owning fifteen acres and three slaves in Barbados. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Borel, which was dated 1194, in the "Pipe Rolls of Warwickshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "The Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. 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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