Recorded as Chisnall and Chisnell, this is an English surname. It is locational and probably from a place called Chisnall Hall, in Lancashire. This was recorded as Chysenhale in the Assize Rolls of the county in the year 1332. The placename itself probably means a gravelly valley from the Old English pre 7th century words "cisen", with the second element of "halh", meaning a valley. A further possibility is that for some nameholders the surname may have derived from the village of Chishall in Essex. This has the similar meaning of "gravelly hill, and was recorded as Cishella in the famous Domesday Book of 1086. Early examples of surname recordings in the surviving church registers of the late medieval period include: Alice Chisnell, the daughter of William and Margaret Chisnell, who was christened on August 10th 1567, at Standish in Lancashire, and that of Edward, the son of Humphrey and Helen Chisnall, who was christened at the same place on April 3rd 1570. Thomas Chisnall married Mary Runnisty at St Pancras Old Church, in the city of London on February 22nd 1648. 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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