This unusual and interesting name can be either English or French in origin. As a French surname, Pinel or Pinnel(l) derives from the Old French word 'pinel', little pine-tree, a diminutive of 'pin', pine-tree, and was originally given as a nickname to a tall, thin man, or perhaps in an ironic sense to a small man. The name from this source was introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, and provides the first recording of the surname as below. The English origin of the modern surname is from a diminutive form of the topographical name 'Pine, for someone who lived by a conspicuous pine tree, or in a pine forest, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century 'pin', Middle English 'pine', pine tree. The marriage of Margery Pinel and Robert Cost was recorded in London on March 19th 1666. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Pinel, which was dated 1086, The Domesday Book (Essex), during the reign of King William 1, 'William the Conqueror', 1066-1087. 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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