Recorded in many forms including Whetnall, Whetnell, Wetnell, Whitnell, Whitmell, Whitnell and Whitmill, this is an English locational surname. It apparently originates from a now 'lost' medieval village called Whitmill in the county of Derbyshire or possibly Whettal in Shropshire. The name would seem to translate as either "The white mill" or (possibly), "the mill of the Hwita people", the latter being an Anglo-Saxon tribe found in the Derbyshire and Yorkshire regions in the pre 8th Century. We have not however been able to identify the precise site of Whitmill, and it is assumed that it has become one of the estimated three thousand hamlets or villages which have either been absorbed by developing towns or by other causes such as changes in agricultural practices, and the infamous plagues which swept the country in 1348 through to 1665. Although this name is believed to be "northern" the majority of early recordings are in the diocese of Greater London. These include Thomas Whitnal, who married Agnes Hawkyns at St Gregory's by St Pauls, on February 25th 1570, Alice Whetnall who married John Britten at St Mary Magdalen, on August 24th 1626, whilst in other areas Sarah Whittmal was recorded in Manchester, Lancashire in 1783, and Mary Whitmill in Halifax, Yorkshire in 1808. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes 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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