Recorded in the forms of Hemphall, Hempsall, Hemphill, Hempill, Hempell, and Hempel, this is a surname of at least three possible origins. It may be medieval English and locational from a place called 'Hempshall' in the county of Nottinghamshire, or it may originate from a now 'lost' English medieval village called Hemp Hill or similar. In these cases the name does mean 'the place where hemp is grown'. Although unusual, an estimated five thousand British surnames or about 8% do originate from lost villages, of which the only reminder today is the surviving surname. To add to the confusion this surname may be English but of German origin as in the spelling of Hempel or Hempell, or it may be pure German as Hempel. In these cases the origin was a 'given' name of the pre-surname era before the 12th century a.d. and spelt 'Haginbert'. This translates loosely as 'bright forest' or similar, but one must be cautious about applying 20th century interpretations to names created fifteen hundred or more years ago. The surname in Germany is certainly recorded as early as 1459 when Daniel Hemppel, give as being a bauer (farmer) of Lankwart, is recorded in the charters of the province of Biberach. In England George Hempsall was a witness at Ossington, Nottingham, on May 1st 1677, John Hemphall a witness at Rolleston, Nottinghamshire, on May 16th 1749, John Hempel at St Mary Magdalene, City of London on June 6th 1792, and William Hemphill, at the church of St Pauls, Covent Garden, London, on April 2nd 1796.
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