This interesting surname, with variant spellings Durtnal(l), Durtnel(l), Dutnall, Dartnall and Dartnell, is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from one of the estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets that have now disappeared from the maps in Britain. The prime cause of these "disappearances" was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century. Natural causes, such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, also contributed to the "lost" village phenomenon. The original place is believed to have been in Penshurst, Kent, due to the large number of recordings in that area. The component elements are the Celtic "dur" meaning water, with "ing", the dependants of, and the Olde English pre 7th Century "holh", a hollow, hole, deep place in water; hence, "dependants of the water hole". The surname was first recorded in the mid 15th Century (see below), and one William Darknold was recorded in the "Testamenta Cantiana" of Kent in 1505. Recordings from English Church Registers include: the marriage of Simon Dutnall and Lucy Wood on November 18th 1701, at Nettlestead; the christening of John, son of Alizander and Elizabeth Dutnall, on November 20th 1709, at St. Nicholas', Rochester; and the marriage of Ann Dutnall and John Coomber on October 20th 1781, at St. Giles' Cripplegate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Darkynhole, which was dated 1435, in the "Streatfeild Mss", during the reign of King Henry V1, known as "The Founder of Eton", 1422 - 1461. 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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