Recorded as Wanstall, Wonstall, and Whanstall, there are two possible origins for this interesting English name. The first being that it is locational from a "lost" medieval village, probably once found in Kent. This is suggested by the fact that the name appears in early records in this county, however being a locational or 'from' surname, it is quite possible the the original name holders came from some entirely different county. It is estimated that in the British Isles there are over three thousand examples of 'lost' places which have provided surnames.Most it would seem, disappeared from the maps, such as they were, between the 15th and 18th centuries at the height of the wool industry, when enforced land clearance took place to make way for sheep pasture. There were other causes such as emigration from the land, the great plagues, and sometimes even war. In this case the derivation of the place name is from the Old English pre 7th century word "waen", meaning a wagon or wain and "stal", a barn or stable, hence a barn where waggons were kept. Two marriages of namebearers recorded in Canterbury are as follows: Richard Wanstall and Elizabeth Norton on June 4th 1605 at St. Margarets, and on July 10th 1615, Thomas Whanstall who married Elizabeth Jones at the same church. 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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