This most interesting and unusual surname is of Old French origin, and derives from the medieval French personal name "Lionel", which itself is a diminutive form of the given name Leo, from the Latin "leo", lion, the name of thirteen popes, with the French diminutive ending "-el". Lionel itself was borne by one of King Arthur's knights, and was given by King Edward 111 (1327 - 1377) to his third son, the Duke of Clarence. Also, during his reign there is mention of one Leo, Lionel or Lionet de Bradenham. This personal name was most popular and widespread in the North of England, where it was also found in the forms Lyell and Lyonel, which are also variants of the modern surname. The personal name is found as "Lunell" in the Hundred Rolls of Essex in 1273, while the surname itself first appears in the same year (see below). Other early examples include: Richard Lyonell, recorded in the Register of Oxford University in 1513; Richard Lynell, who married Margery Awsten in Kensington, London, in 1577; and Ann Linnell, who married Robert Spriggins at St. James', Clerkenwell, London, in 1620. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Reginald Linel, which was dated 1273, in the "Hundred Rolls of Lincolnshire", during the reign of King Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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