This English surname recorded in the spellings of Westall and Westell, is of Anglo-Saxon pre 8th century origin. It is either a topographical name from residence near a "halh" to the west of a village, or it is locational name from places called Westhall or possibly Westhill, which derive their name from the words "west" and "halh", the latter describing a civic meeting place or law-court or a west hill, the hill to the west of a village. There are several such examples including Westhall in Suffolk, Westhall near Ripley in Surrey, and Westhill in Devon. Locational names were originally given either to the lord of the manor, or to those villagers who left their place of origin to settle elsewhere, and were most easily identified by the name of their birthplace. Early examples of the surname recording include Agnes Westall and Walter Bradforth, who were married in 1541 at St. Margaret's, Westminster, London, and Owen Westall, who in 1564 was entered in the register of Oxford University. On March 28th 1624, Alice Westell was christened at St Batholomews the Less, London, and on April 26th 1640, William Westell married Sara Humphreys at St Margaret's, Westminster. A notable bearer of the name was Richard Westall (1765 - 1836), an apprentice to the heraldic engraver for London, and exhibitor at the Royal Academy from 1784. In addition he was a prolific book-illustrator. The Coat of Arms most associated with the name is a silver shield, on a red bend between two falcons proper three gold garbs, on a chief quarterly black and red, the second and third quarters charged with four gouttes d'or, a horse courant of the first, the Crest being, on the hand a falcon proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Richard atte Westhalle, which was dated 1302, in the "Records of Lincolnshire", during the reign of Edward 1, known as "The Hammer of the Scots", 1272 - 1307. 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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