This interesting surname of French origin with variant spellings Russel, Russill, Rousel, Rousell, Roussell, etc., is a nickname for a person with red hair, deriving from the Old French "rous" meaning "red(-haired)" plus the diminutive suffix "el". The surname dates back to the late 13th Century, (see below). Records of the French Huguenot Church in Threadneedle St., London, include Aune, daughter of Pierre and Margerit Rousel who was christened on November 11th 1655, Elizabeth Roussel who was christened on the 9th May 1658, and Antoinette, daughter of Claude and Magdelaine Roussel who was christened on the 17th December 1727. One George Rousell, an emigrant to the New World, sailed aboard the Jamaica Merchant from London bound for the Barbados on December 9th 1685. A Coat of Arms was granted to a Roussel family depicting alternate vertical bands of gold and blue, a red chief with doves proper in flight. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Roussel, which was dated 1297, in the "Ministers' Accounts of the Earldom of Cornwall", during the reign of King Edward 1st, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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