Recorded in several forms including Penell, Pennell, Peniall, Penniall, Penniell, Pernell, and the dialectal Pnnel, this is an English surname, but which in some case may have an ultimate French origin. According to the famouis Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley, it has two possible sources both from personal names. The first is a metronymic and derives from the female name of Petronella or Petronilla, both quite popular in the Middle Ages. This was a name which was either introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, or possibly by the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land in the 12th century, whilst the second is as a diminutive of the pre 7th century Olde English name Payne, to which has been added a short form of the word "little" to give "Payn-el" or son of Payne.However later research suggests yet a third option, in this case locational from a place called Penn Hall formerly Penehull, in the county of Worcester. In this case Alredus de Penhull is recorded in the Assize Rolls of Worcester in the year 1221, when it appears that he may not have paid his taxes. This is clearly a locational recording, but that of William Pennel, recorded in Colchester, Essex in 1377, suggests a development from a personal name. Other early recordings include Anne Pennyale at St Margarets, West minster, in 1571, Thomas Pernell of St Columb Major in Cornwall in 1580, Elizabeth Penniall who married Robert Wood at St Margarets, Westminster in 1640, and Samuel Pennell, at St Mary Aldermanry, in the city of London in 1671
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