This interesting and unusual surname is of Old German origin, and is an occupational surname for a marshal. The name derives from the Old High German "marah", a horse or mare, with "scalc", a servant, and was originally applied to a man who looked after horses, especially one who treated their diseases, a shoeing smith or farrier. By the heyday of surname formation it referred on the one hand to one of the most important servants in every great household (in the royal household a high official of state), and on the other to a humble shoeing smith or farrier. Job descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 11th Century (see below), and has many variant spellings ranging from Marshall, Marschall, Maskill and Marskell to Mashall and Meshall. Robert Maskerel is noted in the Red Book of the Exchequer, Suffolk (1166). Recordings of the surname from English Church Registers include: the christening of Richard, son of Thomas and Janne Mashal, on May 19th 1674 at Lambourn, Berkshire; the marriage of John Mashal and Mary Cooter on September 29th 1687 at Cuckfield, Sussex; and the christening of Jane, daughter of William and Elizabeth Mashal, on December 21st 1711 at Offham, Kent. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Goisfridus Marescal, which was dated 1086, in the Domesday Book of Wiltshire, during the reign of King William 1, known as "The Conqueror", 1066 - 1087. 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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