This interesting surname has a number of possible derivations. Firstly, it may have been a nickname for a tall, thin man, from the Anglo-Norman French word "pel", a stake or pole (from the Old French "piel", Latin "palus"). However, it may also have been either a topographical name for a dweller by a stake fence, or a metonymic occupational name for a builder of such fences, from the same derivation. In some instances, the name may be of locational origin, from any of the places called Peel (Isle of Man), Piel, Peel Island (Lancashire) or Peele (Cheshire). The derivation for these placenames is the Old Celtic "peel", a stronghold (also a fortified tower of the 16th Century on the borders between England and Scotland, built to withstand raids). Early examples include Walter Pele, in the Assize Court Rolls of Lincolnshire in 1202, William de la Pele in 1332; and Robert Peel, in Nottinghamshire Records of 1382. One Larence Peal, aged 23 yrs., was an early emigrant to Virginia, having sailed aboard the "Margett and John" in 1620. George Peal married Elizabeth Seltafield on June 30th 1694, at St. Paul's, Canterbury, Kent. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Pele, which was dated 1199, in the "Memoranda Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. 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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