This curious and interesting surname is of Old French origin, deriving from the Old French word "oisel", a bird. Hence, the name was either a metonymic occupational name for a bird-catcher; or a nickname for a small bird-like person, or someone who bore a fancied resemblance to a bird in some way. The surname itself was introduced into England by the Normans in the aftermath of the Conquest of 1066. The first recorded namebearer appears in Northumberland in the 12th Century (see below). Other early examples of the surname include: Geoffrey Oysel, mentioned in the Pleas of the Forest for Essex, in 1262; and Margeria Ussell and John Ossell, both recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1327. Later recordings include the marriage of George Uzell and Ann Colwell on September 29th 1651, at Blaisdon, Gloucestershire; and the marriage of Elizabeth Uzzell to Robert Spenser Carpenter on January 11th 1665, at St. Andrew's, Enfield, in London. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Matthew Oisel, which was dated 1168, in the "Pipe Rolls of Northumberland", during the reign of King Henry 11, known as "The Builder of Churches", 1154 - 1189. 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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