Recorded as Arsenal, Horsell and Horsnell, this is an early English surname. It is of medieval origin, and can be either a metonymic occupational name for a maker of horseshoe nails, or perhaps a nickname for a farrier, a shoer of horses. The derivation is from the Olde English pre 7th century word "hors" which means what it says, and "naegel", a nail. The surname is mentioned frequently in the accounts books of medieval households. Over the centuries and perhaps not suprisingly, there have been many developments which include Margaret Horsnelll who married Francis Rolfe in the city of London in 1639, Audrey Horsnell of the county of Norfolk in 1644, John Horsell of the city of London in 1653, and William Horssnaile also of the city of London in the year 1700. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Henry Horsnail. He was a witness at the Assize Court of Shropshire in 1221. This was during the reign of King Henry 111rd of England, and known as "The Frenchman" because he was born in France, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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