This is an English surname of ancient origins. It is believed to have derived from the French word 'vassal' probably introduced after the Norman-French invasion of 1066. It translates as dependant or servant, and although in later years it became used as a term of abuse, this was not the original meaning at all. Everybody in feudal times was a vassal of the monarch, and 'dependant' on somebody, but as feudalism fell into disrepute in medieval times, so did the terms associated with it. That this name was highly regarded in ancient times is shown by the recording of Vassallus de Aunfollis, in the Curia Regis roills of the county of Rurland in 1221, where Vassallus is clearly a personal name. The first known surviving recording as surname is apparently a few years earlier, when Hugo Vassall is recorded in the pipe rolls of Gloucestershirwe in the year 1202. Whether this was a hereditary surname is unclear, but the fact that this man was recorded in the tax rolls at all, suggests that he was of some considerable importance.
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