Recorded in the apparent spellings of Forstall, Forestal, Forrestal, and Forestel, this rare surname is probably of pre 10th century French origins, but may be a combination of French and English. As 'Forestel' it is recorded in Riestapt's heraldic records for Cambridgeshire, England, and for the department of Artois, in France. No dates are given but we would think that these entries are 17th century. However to add to the confusion the surviving church registers of those two regions do not give any examples of surname recordings except as 'Forest'.As regards a meaning and origin and assuming that the name spellings are correct early forms, they suggest the translation of 'the house (halh) in the forest'. We have not been able to establish definate proof as to whether any such place existed in either England or France, although Forstal in Kent, or Forest Hill in Oxfordshire, formerly 'Forsthulle' in the year 1242 are possibilities. An estimated five thousand surnames are known to originate from now 'lost' medieval sites, so this would also be a logical possibilty for the origin. Early examples of the surname recordings are few and far between. Those that we have found include Josiah Forstall, a book publisher of London, who was born in 1795 and died in 1868. More interesting perhaps, are those of Jacobus Forrestal who married Maria Abercromby at Lincolns Inn Fields on April 4th 1805, and Thomas Forestal, the son of Johannes Forestal, who was christened at Hammersmith, also London, on March 14th 1807. Both are Roman Catholic entries, and both occur in the middle of the Napoleonic Wars 1794 - 1815.
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