This unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational name from some minor, unrecorded or now "lost" place believed to have been situated in Hampshire or West Sussex, because of the high incidence of surname recordings in that area. The practice of enforced "clearing" and enclosure of rural lands to make way for sheep pastures from the 15th Century onwards was largely responsible for village disappearance, as well as natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348, in which an eighth of the population perished. The component elements of the placename are most likely the Olde English pre 7th Century "fearn", fern (a collective noun), with "dael", valley. In the south, the "v" was regarded as the normal pronunciation of "f" and frequently replaced it. The surname makes an interesting early appearance in Halesowen, Worcestershire, where on January 20th 1564, John Varndell married a Johanne Hawkes. On May 28th 1564, Elisabeth Varnedell and William Westbrook were married in Rogate, Sussex, and on September 3rd 1762, James Varndall, an infant, was christened in Bishops Waltham, Hampshire. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Annes Varndell, which was dated June 26th 1551, marriage to Robert Valor, at Headley, Hampshire, during the reign of King Edward V1, known as "The Boy King", 1547 - 1553. 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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