This interesting surname, with variant spellings Witchell, Wichall, Witchall, Witchel, etc., has two possible origins. Firstly, it may be locational from a place called Witchells in Shirwell, recorded as Wichehole in the Place-Names of Devonshire (1423). It may also derive from the old English pre 7th Century "hwit" meaning White plus "cild", a child; hence "fair child" and would have originated as a nickname for a fair haired child or a child with a pale complexion. The final "s" indicates the patronymic form of the name, "son of the fair one". The surname dates back to the early half of the 13th Century (see below). One, Richard Whitchild, is recorded in "The Register of the Freemen of Leicester" (1322). Other recordings of the surname from London church registers include; Richard Witchalls, who married Jane Gibson, on July 7th 1639, at St. Margaret's, Westminster, and Richard, son of Richard and Mary Witchalls, who was christened on August 21st 1715, at St. Botolph without Aldgate. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan Whitechill, (witness), which was dated 1221, The Assize Court Rolls of Worcestershire, during the reign of King Henry 111, "The Frenchman", 1216 - 1272. 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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