Recorded in several forms including Purcel, Purcell, Pursell, and the derivatives Pearsall and Pearsull, this is a British Isles surname, but one of French origins. It is of course most famous for its musical assocations with the composers Henry Purcell (1660 - 1717) and his brother Daniel Purcell (1658 - 1698). It was probably introduced into the British Isles after the Norman-French conquest of 1066, and is derived from the pre 9th century word "pourcel", which described a breeder of animals or in effect a farmer. The surname is quite popular in Ireland where nameholders are mainly to be found in Counties Kilkenny and Tipperary, with the picturesque ruined castle of Loughmoe, the former seat of the head of the family, a well known landmark near Thurles. The Purcells were associates of the great Butler family. In Scotland, the surname is first recorded in Lanark, where William Pursell was a "pledge of good behaviour" for a compatriot Willie Brown, in 1490, whilst the marriage of Lilias Purcell and Thomas Thompson was recorded in Edinburgh, on March 10th 1693, whillst Joseph Persall who it is believed was born as Joseph Pursell, was married at St Dunstans in the East, on September 28th 1806. James Purcell who emigrated from Scotland to Canada on the ship "Commerce", received a land grant in Lanark, Upper Canada, on October 13th 1821. A coat of arms granted to a Purcell family has the blazon of a barry wavy of six silver and red, on a black bend three silver boars' heads couped. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Gaufridus Porcellus. This was dated 1130, in the Pipe Rolls of Surrey, during the reign of King Henry 1st, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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