This interesting name with variant spellings, Carnell, Carnelley, Carbonell and Cardinal, has two possible origins, the first of which is an occupational name for a crossbow man who specialized in fighting from the battlements of castles. It derives from the Anglo-Norman French 'carnel' battlement, embrasure. Secondly, it may be a contracted form of the surnames Carbonell and Cardinal. Carbonell derives from the Old French 'carbon', charcoal, a nickname for one with a swarthy complexion or hair black as coal, the essential characteristic of charcoal.The name was sometimes confused with the surname Cardinal and became Carnall. The surname Cardinal comes from the Old French 'Cardinal', cardinal, the church dignitary, a pageant-name or a nickname for one like a cardinal or someone who habitually dressed in red. One Hugo de la Karnell appears in the Feet of Fines for Huntingdonshire, 1247. On September 9th 1629, Andrew Carnall was christened in St. Mary's, Whitechapel, Stepney, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de la Kernel, which was dated 1244, Cartulary of the Monastery in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, 'The Frenchman', 1216-1272. 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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