This ancient surname derives from the pre 6th century Olde English "hwit" meaning "white" and "cild" - a young person. It was a baptismal name of endearment and literally means "The fair child" although "Fairchild" itself survives (see below) as a surname. Research indicates that some name holders will have originated from a place in Devon called in the 1423 Pipe Rolls of that county, "Wichehole" and later Witchells, although no longer recorded in the Gazetteers. the Coat of Arms derives from Chudleigh (Devon) and is Per Fess Silver and Black, six crescents pale counterchanged, the crest being an antelopes head, holding in its mouth a laurel branch. There are numerous modern variations of the spelling including Wichall, Whichall, Whitchel etc. whilst examples of early recordings include Nycholas Witchhalse of Kenn, Devon on November 3rd 1578, Susana Wythal who married one Thomas Fisher at St Margarets Church, Lothbury, London on January 1st 1587 and John Witchell, who married Elizabeth Johnson at Allhallows Church, London Wall on February 23rd 1663 in the reign of King Charles 11 (1660 - 1685). The Rolls of Leicester for 1322 include Richard Whitchild (also recorded as Wytechild) an interesting comparison with the later forms. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Alan Whitechill, which was dated 1221, a witness at "The Assize Rolls of Worcester", during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "The Frenchman". 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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