This interesting and uncommon name is of Old French origin, introduced into England by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066. It is in most cases a metonymic occupational surname for a swineherd, derived from the Old French word "pourcel", piglet, from the Latin "porcellus", a diminutive of "porcus", pig. The surname may also have developed from the use of the term "pourcel" as an affectionate nickname; similar nicknames surviving as modern surnames are "Lamb" and "Chick". The development of the surname includes: Edward Porcel (1273, Buckinghamshire), John Purcel (1313, London), Robert Parshall (1599, Kent), Joan Purshale (1640, Surrey) and Magdan Parchall (1678, London).The modern surname can be found as Purcell, Purchell and Purchall. One James Purchall was christened in Godalming, Surrey, on July 16th 1780. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Purcel, which was dated 1159, The Staffordshire Pipe Rolls, during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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