This most interesting surname is of Portuguese origin, and derives from three possible interpretations, two French and the other Italian. It may be cognate with the Old French word "fauve", dusky, dark-skinned, which was a nickname applied to someone with a dusky complexion; or it may have been a nickname for a quick-witted person, from the Old French "favel", story, tale, the name borne by a cunning horse in a popular medieval cycle of beast tales. Finally, it may also be cognate with the Italian "favilla", spark, which was used as a nickname for a choleric person, one who was quick to anger. The surname is first recorded in the Church Registers of Portugal in the early 15th Century (see below). The first recorded namebearer may be the same Joao Favella, whose wife Beatriz gave birth to a son Joao, in 1472, at Funchal-Madeira, Funchal, in Portugal. His children Bartholomew and Catharina were born at Funchal-Maderira also, in 1474 and 1476, respectively. In England the name is also found as Favell, and one of these families in Kirby Hall, Catterick, Yorkshire, were granted a Coat of Arms in 1666, which depicts a chevron between three silver escallops on a black shield, with the Motto "En Dieu ma foi" (My faith is in God). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Joao Favella, which was dated 1430, baptised at Funchal-Madeira, Funchal in Portugal, during the reign of King John the Great, 1383 - 1433. 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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