This rare surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin and Scandinavian origin, and is a topographical name for someone who lived in a homestead that was either higher up than neighbouring dwellings, or higher up stream. The derivation is from the Old English pre 7th Century 'up' or 'upp(e)', meaning up or above, with the Old Scandinavian 'salr', a hall or dwelling. It is also possible that Upstell is a dialectal variant of a locational name Upsall, from two places in Yorkshire, first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, as 'Upsale' and 'Upesale', respectively, and having the same derivation as above.Topographical surnames are some of the earliest names to be created, as topographical features, whether natural or man-made, provided obvious and convenient means of identification. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Isaac Upstell (witness), which was dated April 8th 1759, St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, London, during the reign of King George 11, 'The Last Warrior King', 1727 - 1760. 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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