This interesting surname, with variant spellings Durtnal(l), Durtnel(l), Dutnall, Dartnall, Dartnell, etc., is of English locational origin 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, also contributed to the lost village phenomenon. The original place is believed to have been in Penshurst, Kent. The component elements are the Celtic "dur" meaning water, "ing" the dependants of plus the Old English pre 7th Century "holh" a hollow, hole, deep place in water; hence "dependants of the water hole". One, William Darknold, is recorded in the "Testamenta Cantiana" of Kent in 1505. The marriage of John Dutnell and Elizabeth Rumfield took place on May 5th 1735, at St. Nicholas, Rochester, Kent, and on August 24th 1786, Rebecca Dutnell and Robert Bennett were married at St. Olave, Southwark, London. 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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