This interesting and unusual name is of French origin and is a metonymic occupational name for a maker or dealer in rakes, or an agricultural worker; or even a nickname for a tall thin person (i.e., thin as a rake). The derivation in all these instances is from the Old French 'rastel', a rake or a matlock. It is likely that this term came into usage after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The following examples illustrate the name development after the first recording as a surname (see below): Nicholas Rastel (1272) and Roger Rastall married Dionise Mayre in London in 1574. One William Rastall, of Wisbeach, was involved in helping an insurrection in favour of King Charles 11, circa 1650. One Robert Rastall was christened on November 6th 1565 at St. Gregory-by-St.-Paul's, London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger Rastell, which was dated 1185, Pipe Rolls of Somerset, 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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