This famous surname recorded in the spellings of Portal, Purtell and Pardal, is generally considered to be a 17th century Huguenot import into Britain. What is certain is that it has a long and honourable history. The very first name holder (as shown below) was one of a chosen band of French knights sent by the king of France and commanded by Bertrand du Guesclin into Spain to avenge the death of Blanche of Bourbon, his sister-in-law, and Queen of Castile. It seems that in the time honoured tradition of the age of chivalry, she was poisoned by her husband who rejoiced in the name of 'Peter - The Cruel'. De Portal distinguished himself on the expedition to the point that his achievements are celebrated in a poem which is still on record today. The name is locational and describes one who guarded the gate of a fortress or city, or who lived in such a place. The name seems to have undergone dialectal changes in England being recorded as 'Portam' in Lincoln in 1275 and as Pordal(l) in London in 1608, when Thon Pordall was christened at St Stephans Church, Coleman Street, on February 5th of that year. Later recordings include Anthony Portal, christened at Christ Church, Southwark, on June 30th 1697, Louis Portail, who was christened at the French Huguenot Church, Threadneedle Street, London, on April 22nd 1716, and Thomas Purtell, a witness at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on September 6th 1724. The first recorded spelling of the family name is believed to be that of Raymond de Portal, which was dated 1366, a knight of Toulouse, in France, during the reign of King Charles V of France 1364 - 1386.
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