This very uncommon name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from some minor, unrecorded, or "lost" place believed to have been situated in Gloucestershire, due to the incidence of early recordings in that county. An estimated seven to ten thousand villages and hamlets are known to have disappeared since the 13th Century, owing to such natural causes as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished, and to the widespread practice of "clearing" large tracts of rural land to create sheep pastures from the 15th Century on, leading to the enforced dispersal of the population. The place that has given rise to the modern surnames Ovenel(l), Ovenal(l) and Ovenil(l) is thought to have been named with the genitive case of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Ofa" (Ofen), and "hall", hall, residence, manor. Examples of the surname from various Church Registers include: the christening of Margery, daughter of John Ovenell, in Siddington, Gloucestershire, in January 1628; the christening of Joane Ovenel on May 26th 1638, at Broadway in Worcestershire; and the marriage of John Ovenell and Mary Archil at Harnhill in Gloucestershire, on August 18th 1685. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Jane Ovenoll, which was dated November 6th 1582, marriage to Richard Fowler, at Turkdean, Gloucestershire, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, known as "Good Queen Bess", 1558 - 1603. 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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