This famous surname has three possible origins, two French and one English. The first, and most likely, being a French locational name from the Olde French "Mansel" given to an inhabitant of Maine (North West France) or its capital Le Mans. In France, "mansel" was also a status name for a feudal tenant who occupied a Manse (an area of land sufficient to support a family). The third possibility is that it derives from the Olde English, personal name "mann", latinized as Manzellinus. One, Mansell de Patleshull is recorded in the 1203 Assize Court Rolls of Staffordshire.The first recording of the surname is however earlier, see below. A Robert le Mansel appears in the 1171, Pipe Rolls of Hampshire, although there are claims that one Philip de Mansel accompanied William the Conqueror in 1066. What is certain is that in the reign of Edward 1st in 1287 William le Mansell is recorded in the ancient heraldic rolls as bearing a coat of arms with the blazon of three black maunches on a silver field, whilst later in 1320 Sir William Maunsell had a different blazon of a red field charged with a silver fess. In the modern idiom, the name has four spelling variations: Mansel(l), Mancell and Maunsell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Turstinus Mansel, which was dated 1148, The Winton Rolls of Hampshire, during the reign of King Stephen, Count of Blois, 1135 - 1154. 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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