This interesting surname is of Old Norse origin, and derives from the personal byname "Gamall", or the Old Danish, Old Swedish "Gamal", meaning "the old one". The creation of names from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics. The name was occasionally used in northern England and Scotland during the Middle Ages as a given name, "Gamel" is noted in the Domesday Book of 1086, and Gamel Auceps is listed in the 1158 Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire.Jordan Gambel is registered in the 1296 Ministers Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall. In Scotland, Hugh Gamyl held lands near Langneuton in Roxburghshire (1377), and John Gamill was a witness in 1444. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Gambell, Gamble, Gambrell, Gammell, Gammill, Gemmell and Gemmill. Recordings of the surname from various Church Registers include: the marriage of Janet Gemmell and Johone Findlay on July 9th 1607, at Canongate, Midlothian; the marriage of Christian Gemmell and James Robertson at Edinburgh, Midlothian, on June 2nd 1678; and the marriage of James Gemmell and Elizabeth Simon on May 1st 1721, at St. Botolph's, Bishopsgate, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Simon Gamel, which was dated 1202, witness in the "Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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