Recorded in several forms including Quarrell, Quarel, and Quarell, this is a surname of two possible origins. The World Dictionary of Surnames by Hanks and Hodges states that it is from the French word 'quarel' meaning a bolt or arrow, as shot by a crossbow, and this seems to be a reasonable explanation. However the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in 1880 takes a very different tack. He says that it is either occupational or residential for somebody who loved or worked at a 'quarel'. This he claimes was the pre 7th century word for a quarry, a place used for extracting stone. He also quotes from an early text called the 'Saxifragium' which suggests that the word does describe a quarry. It is likely that we have a 'fusing' of origins. After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, it is probable that the French meaning was used. The French used the cross-bow and as for three centuries French was the official language of England, this 'translation' probably prevailed. This as with many surnames, suggests that it would only have been possible to give the correct meaning if through time travel it was possible to go back to when the name was originally bestowed! However the first recording is clearly residential and appears to describe a person who lived at 'a Quarel'. This was Ivo de Quarel of Cambridge in the Hundred Rolls of that county in 1273, whilst in 1345 we have the recording of Edward Quarel of London, and in the Poll Tax Rolls of Yorkshire in 1379 that of Johannes Qwarrell.
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