Recorded in the spellings of Scurrel, Scurrell, Squirl, Squirrel, and Squirrell, this is an English surname, but probably of French origins. The early medieval period around the 12th and 13th centuries saw the formation of hereditary surnames, and many of these resulted from what can best be described as nicknames. It is estimated that as much as 20% of all surnames are or were nicknames, and these resulted from supposed characteristics of the nameholder. These were often concerned with the persons occupation, as well as physical attributes or even deformities. In this case the nickname was one given to a careful or thrifty person, one who stored things away for a rainy day, although it may have been, as with Geoffrey le Esquerel, in the charters known as the "Hundred Rolls" of Suffolk, in 1275, a job description for a storekeeper or similar. The derivation is from the Olde French word "esquirel", which does mean "squirrel" and it seems that the word was probably introduced into Britain in the 7th century. Early examples of the surname recording include William Scurell of Norfolk, in the year 1230, and Peter Squirel of Yorkshire, in the Subsidy Rolls of that county in 1301. The first known recording, and one of the earliest of all surname recordings anywhere in the world, is that of Ralph Squrel, in the Assize Rolls of Warwick, in the year 1221.
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