Recorded in several spellings including Chapel, Chappel, Chapple, Chapelle, Chappelle, Capelle, Capewell and others, this is an English medieval surname, but one of French origins of which it has at least two. The first is residential for someone who lived by a chapel, or who came from a place called Chapel or which there are several examples both in France and England. Chapel is from the Old French word "chapelle", itself which from the Latin word "capella", meaning a hood or cloak, and is used in a transferred sense of when applied to a building as a place which gave cover or sanctuary.The second possible origin is occupational. As such it would either describe a maker of hoods and cloaks, or a person who was employed in a chapel. Residential surnames were amongst the earliest created, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names. Early examples of recordings taken at random from surviving church registers of the city of London include those of Abraham Chapple christened on August 7th 1623 at St. Botolph's Bishopsgate, and Jean Chappelle on August 3rd 1680 at the French Church Threadneedle Street. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Chapel. This was dated 1202, in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk, during the reign of King John of England, and known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the 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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