This interesting surname has a number of possible origins. Firstly, it may be topographical, for someone who lived not in the main village, but in an isolated dwelling in the country, deriving from the Middle English "meinil" or the old French "mesnil" meaning country house. There are several minor places in France named with this word and the surname may also be a locational name from any of these. The surname may also derive from a Norman female personal name composed of the Germanic elements "magin" meaning strenght or might plus "hild" a battle. The name Menenilda (without surname) appears in the Chartulary of Ramsey Abbey, Norfolk (1250). The surname is first recorded in the latter half of the 12th Century, (see below). One Hugh de Meynyl, is noted in the Assize Court Rolls of Lancashire (1260), and Alan Mahenyld is recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk (1275). In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings including Meynell, Maynell, Mannell, Menel, etc.. On August 21st 1547, Jane Mennell married Nicholas Blakeney at St. Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street, and Margareta Menell married Oliverus Roberts on March 1st 1594, at St. Martin in the Fields Westminster, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Meinel, which was dated 1166, Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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