Recorded in several forms including Chessel, Chessell, Chessil, Chessill, and Chessele, this very unusual and interesting name is English and locational. As a locational name it means that it is a 'from' name. One of the easiest forms of identification particulary in the medieval period was to call 'strangers' by the name of the place from whence they originated, even if this was only the next village. If they came from another country then they would be called Scot or French, but within England the original town or village name would suffice. There are various places with a similar spelling and meaning in Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Dorset, and the Isle of Wight, and in theory all could have provided examples of the surname. The first place recording was that of Chessell Down in the year 1317 in the spelling of Chesthull, and it is probably from here that the name originates. The derivation of the village name in all cases is believed to be from the Olde English pre 7th Century word 'ciest', meaning a chest, the probable reference being to an early graveyard, as there is strong evidence that Chessell Down contained a heathen burial ground. Early examples of the surname recording taken from surviving church registers include: Frances Chessell who married Barbra Collier on 18th October 1595, at Ramsey, Hampshire, and Nathanael Chessele, who married Amnis Shodden on 25th September 1597 at Niton, in the Isle of Wight. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Elinor Chessel, which was dated October 1st 1593, at the village of Calbourne, Hampshire. This was during the reign of Queen Elizabeth Ist of England, known by the nickname of 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", sometimes leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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