This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational either from a place in Staffordshire called Gornal, or from Gornal(wood) near Birmingham. The former, recorded as "Goronhale" in 1375, and as "Gwarnell" in Place Names of Staffordshire, is so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century "cweorn", a mill (with and early change of the initial "c" to "g"), and "halh", a nook or recess. The place in Birmingham is believed to share the same meaning and derivation. Locational surnames were usually acquired by a local landowner, or by the lord of the manor, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, and were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. In the modern idiom the surname can be found recorded as Gornall, Gurnell, Garnall and Garnul. Recordings from English Church Registers include: the christening of Priscilla Gurnell on March 25th 1582, at St. Andrew's, Enfield, London; the christening of Ralph, son of John Garnul, on July 13th 1717, at Mucklestone, Staffordshire; and the christening of Henry Robert Gornall at St. Martin in the Fields, Westminster, London, on September 2nd 1804. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Gurnell, which was dated September 4th 1569, christened at St. Michael's, Wood Street, London, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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