This interesting surname is of early medieval French origin, and is a nickname for a person with reddish-brown hair, from the Old French "Sorel", reddish-brown and the Anglo-Norman-French word "sor", chestnut. Other English surnames from this source include Soar, Sorrel, Soar(e)s and Sorrill, while the French surnames include Sor, Saur, Saura, Sorel, Soreau and Saurat. The name was probably introduced to England by the Norman after the Conquest of 1066, as the first recording of the surname dates from the early 12th Century (see below). Nicknames were given in the first instances with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities and mental and moral characteristics, as well as supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition. Thomas Sorel was recorded in 1175 in the Pipe Rolls of Norfolk and William Sorel was mentioned in 1185 in the Records of Templars in England in the 12th Century in Hertfordshire. Anne, daughter of John Sorrell was christened at St. Giles' Cripplegate, London, on July 25th 1568. Coats of Arms were granted to Sorrell families in Waltham and Stebbings in Essex and Ipswich, in Suffolk, which depicts two ermine lions passant, gardant on a red shield. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Sorell, which was dated 1130, the Pipe Rolls of Suffolk, during the reign of King Henry 1st, "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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