Recorded in many spellings including Mechell, Michell, and Mitchell, this famous surname can be of English, Scottish or Irish origins. It derives from the popular medieval personal name "Michael", in the medieval vernacular pronounced "Michel", meaning " he who is like the Lord", from the Hebrew "Micha-el". This personal name is first recorded in England in 1160, when one Michaelis de Areci appears in the Danelaw Documents of London, and as in Michel de Whepstede of Suffolk in 1327. It seems likely that the name was introduced into the British Isles by returning Crusaders and pilgrims from the Holy Land, during the period of religious revival in the 12th century. The surname, in its early form of Michel, was well established by the early 1200's, with William Michel being recorded as being paid 3d per day for keeping two of the Kings' wolfhounds in the year 1219. Later examples taken from authentic rolls and charters of the relevant periods include Agnes Mitchell, who was married to Richard Freeman on June 24th 1582, at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, London, and Rosanna Mechell, the daughter of James Mechell, christened at Christ Church, Spitalfields, London, on September 11th 1814. Michael Mitchell, aged 20 years, appears in the Famine Emmigrant list for Ireland. He apparently sailed on the ship "Cambridge of Liverpool", bound for New York in May 1846. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gilbert Michel, which was dated 1205, in the "Curia Regis Rolls" of Northumberland, during the reign of King John (1199 - 1216). John was known by the nickname of "Lackland", apparently given to him by his father Henry 11. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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