This notable surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name form Pownall, a place north west of Wimslow in Cheshire. First recorded as "Pohenhale" in the 12th Century, and as "Pounhale" in the 1276 "Inquisitiones post mortem", the place was so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Puna", from "punian", to pound, and "halh", nook, recess. Locational surnames, such as this, were originally given to local landowners, and the lord of the manor, and especially as a means of identification to those who left their birthplace to settle elsewhere. As Earls of Chester, members of the Pownall family were Chamberlains to the Kings, and on that account, in allusion to their office, they bore a lion's paw holding a golden key on the Crest of their Coat of Arms. Robert Pownall (1520 - 1571) was rector of Harbledon, Kent, from 1562 to 1571, and on April 27th 1559, Richard, son of Humphrey Pownall, was christened at Wimslow, Cheshire. An illustrious bearer of the name was Thomas Pownall (1722 - 1805), known as "Governor Pownall", who was nominated governor of Massachusetts in 1757, and published his famous work on "The Administration of the Colonies" in 1764. The family Coat of Arms is a silver shield with a black lion rampant charged on the breast with a silver cross pattee; the Motto: "Officium praesto", translates as "I perform my duty". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Pownall, which was dated 1328, in "Medieval Records of Cheshire", during the reign of King Edward 111, known as "The Father of the Navy", 1327 - 1377. 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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