This unusual name is one of the variant forms of the more familiar surname, 'Russell', also found as 'Russel', 'Roussel(l)', 'Rousel(l)', 'Rowsell' and 'Russill'. The surname derives from a popular Anglo-Norman French nickname for someone with red hair, 'rousel', a diminutive of the Old French 'rous', red, with the diminutive suffix '-el'. In some cases the modern surname may derive from the use of the nickname as a personal name, as recorded in the 1095 Documents from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, as 'Russel'. One of the traditional names for the fox in medieval times was 'Russel', because of his colour. Chaucer, in the 14th Century 'Canterbury Tales', speaks of "Dan Russel the fox". The marriage of one Christopher Rozzell and Julian (Gillian) Wastall, was recorded at St. Mary's Church, Leicester, on April 3rd 1775. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Ralph Russel, which was dated 1115, The Winton Rolls, Hampshire, during the reign of King Henry 1, 'The Lion of Justice', 1100-1135. 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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