Recorded in a wide range of spellings including Rafael, Raphael, Refael, Refaeli, Rafeaely, Raffello, Rachwal, Raphaelov, and Refalovich, this is a European surname and originally a Christian one only. It is of ancient biblical origins and derives from the Hebrew male given name of Refael, which translates loosely as "healing god". This was one of the names borne by the three archangels, the others being Michael and Gabriel. For reasons unclear, Raphael did not achieve anything like the popularity of the other names, although all were introduced into Europe by returning Crusaders from the the 11th century.It became the custom for these warrriors and pilgrims to call their children after biblical figures, mainly as a momento of the father's attempts to wrest the Holy Land from the infidel. There were twelve such expeditions, all as it happens, unsuccessful, and one at least leading to the death of King Richard 1st of England, in 1199. The name is recorded in England in the registers of the diocese of London in 1639, when Ann, the daughter of Peter and Ann Raphael was christened at St Martins in the Field, Westminster. Sadly she seems to have died young, because in 1644 the same parents are again witnesses at the christening of a daughter Ann. These people may have been French Huguenots, and if not, then Pierre Raphael, a witness at Threadneedle Street French church, on October 28th 1694, most certainly was. A Jewish recording is that of Lewis Raphael at the New Synagogue in the city of London, on January 31st 1835.
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