This very unusual and interesting name is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. It is a 'nickname surname', one of that large group of early English and Continental surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of a nickname. These were given originally with reference to either a person's physical attributes, mental and moral characteristics, fancied resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, from a person's habits of dress and equipment, and sometimes from a person's occupation. In this instance, the nickname was given to someone thought to resemble a weasel in some way, derived from the Old French 'musteile, mustoile', weasel. The modern surname can be found as Mustell, Mustill, Mustel, Muzzel(l), Muzzal(l) and Muzzle. The marriage of James Mustill and Elizabeth Cunnington was recorded at Royston in Hertfordshire on November 22nd 1764. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Mustail, which was dated 1175, The Book of Seals for 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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