This name derives from the Olde French 'rous-el', a diminutive of 'rous' meaning 'red'. It was originally given as a nickname to one having red hair or a reddish complexion, or perhaps referred to the red earth where someone resided i.e. the red soil of Devon. The more usual spelling, Russel(l) appears in the Suffolk County Records of 1095. It is first recorded as a surname in the 12th century. The spelling Roussel appears in the 1297 Cornwall Earldom Records. In the modern idiom the name has seven spelling variations: Russel, Russell, Russill, Rousell, Rousel, Roussel and Roussell. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert Russel which was dated 1169 the Pipe Rolls of Dorset 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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