Sometimes it is easier to find recordings of a surname than to give an origin and meaning to the name. This is one of those surnames. It is almost certainly English, and is widely recorded in the church registers of the diocese of Greater London from the middle of the 17th century. This is in the spellings of Kissel, Kissell, Keysel, Keysall, and Keysell, and none of the spelling give any suggestion of an overseas influence. On this basis the name is almost certainly locational, and therefore from a place so named. The problem is that no such place in any of the spellings is known to exist, in fact the only place name remotely like it, is believed to be Keysoe, a village near Kimbolton in Bedfordshire. This village is recorded in Domesday Book of 1086 as 'Caegho', which translates as 'The spur of land owned by Caeg', the later being an Olde English personal name of the pre 7th century. In our view given the number of variant spellings, this surname originates from a 'lost' medieval village probably called originally 'Caeghill' or similar. At least one thousand British surnames are known to originate from 'lost' sites, so whilst unusual, it is not a totally unique situation. Examples of the surname recordings taken from surviving registers include: Frances Keasle, whose son John was christened at St James Clerkenwell, on October 11th 1675, Thomas Keaysell, who married Dorothy Hill at St Gregory's church, by the Tower of London, on June 8th 1685, and John Kissell, whose daughter Florence, was christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on February 12th 1854.
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