This unusual and interesting name is an English metonymic occupational surname for someone who either grew and\or sold fennel. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century "finugle" or "fenol", from the Latin "fenuculum". Fennel was widely cultivated for its qualities as a seasoning ingredient in sauces. The surname "Fennell" can also derived from a medieval topographical name for someone who lived near an area where the herb was grown. It could also have been a nickname for someone who had a particular liking for fennel and used it frequently. London church recordings include, one Issabell, Fennell, who was christened on April 7th 1554 at St. Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, Robert son of John Fennill who was christened on March 14th 1592 at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, and Henry Fennell who married Margerie Lunnix on April 16th 1593 at St. Mary, Abchurch. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Fenigle, which was dated 1327, The Sussex Subsidy Rolls, during the reign of King Edward 111, Father of the Navy, 1327 - 1377. 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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