This unusual and interesting surname is of early medieval English origin, and is a locational name either from a place south east of Ollerton in Nottinghamshire called Kneesall, or from Snowshill situated south west of Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire. The former place, recorded as "Cheneshale" in the Domesday Book of 1086, and as "Keneshale" in 1230, has as its initial element the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "cyneheah", with "halh", a nook, recess, retired or secret place. The latter place, appearing as "Snawesille" in the Domesday Book, and as "Snoweshull" in the 1251 Charter Rolls of Gloucestershire, is so called from the Olde English "snaw", snow, with "hyll", hill. (The place is situated by a hill of 921 feet). Locational surnames were originally given to local landowners and to the lord of the manor, and especially to those former inhabitants who left their place of origin to live and work in another area. Regional and dialectal differences subsequently produced several variations on the original spelling of the name, which in the modern idiom appears as Snowsell, Snawsell, Snassell, Snazel, Snozzwell, and Snashall. Examples of the surname recordings include on October 23rd 1559, Ellinora Snawsell and Edwardus Warde, who were married at Allerton Mauleverer, Yorkshire, and on July 11th 1644, and Mary Elisabeth Snozwell, christened at the church of St Mary's, Southwark, London, on July 26th 1775. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Seth Snawsell, which was dated May 14th 1537, witness at a christening at Bilton by Hull, Yorkshire, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. 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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