Recorded as Mertell, Murtell, Myrtle and even Myrtile, this very uncommon and interesting name is of medieval English origin. It is derived from the personal name "Martel", one of the diminutive forms os the male given name Martin. The name is ultimately of Roman origin, from the Latin "Martinus", a derivative of "Mars", from the name of the Roman god of war and fertility. The diminutive Martel, also found as Mertel, derives from the short form of the name, mart, with the French diminutive suffix "-el".The surname from this source has a number of variant forms, ranging from Martel(l) and Mertel(l) to Murtle, Murtell and, by way of folk etymology, Myrtle, from the phonetically similar name of the shrub. The development of the surname includes Ricardus Martyll (1379, Yorkshire), and Margeret Mirtell (1567, Warwickshire). Among the recordings of the name, found mainly in the southern counties, are those of the christening of Martha, daughter of William and Elizabeth Murtell, in February 1761 in Witley, Surrey, and the marriage of Ann Myrtle to David White at the church of St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on July 24th 1803. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Mertel. This was dated 1273, in the Hundred Rolls of Norfolk, during the reign of King Edward 1st of England, 1272 - 1307. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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