This unusual and interesting name is a medieval English occupational surname describing a "Sensechal", an official in a large household responsible for adminstrating the domestic, day-to-day arrangements. In a royal or noble household the Seneschal was an extremely powerful man, since he was often also entrusted with the administration of justice within the (usually) very large household. The term "Seneschal" from the Old French was introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066 and derives from a Germanic word composed of the elements "Sini", old, from the Latin "Senior", Elder, a term of respect, plus "Scalc", servant. There are eight modern variations:- "Seneschal(l), Senescall, Senchell, Senecal, Sensicall, Sensicle and Senskell". The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan le Senescall, Officer of the Court, which was dated 1194, The Assize Rolls of Staffordshire, during the reign of King Richard I, The Lionheart, 1189 - 1199. 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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