Recorded in many forms including Witnall, Whitnall, Whitnell, Withnall, and others, this is an English surname. it is locational from either a place called Withnell near the town of Blackburn in the county of Lancashire or possibly Witnell, a locality in the Wells rural district of the county of Somerset, far away in the West Country. The former place was recorded as Withinhull in the Lancashire Pipe Rolls of the year 1160 and the second as Withenhull in the Assize Court Rolls of Somerset in 1205. Both places are composed of the Olde English pre 7th century elements "withig", meaning willow, a common first element in placenames, and "hyll", a hill. Locational names were originally given to the lord of the manor and his descendants or as a means of identification to those who left their place of birth to seek work elsewhere. The church registers of the dioecese of Greater London include the following surviving and early entries of the name: Joane Witnall who married Isaac Anthony on April 15th 1569 at Harefield; William Wythnoll who married Mawdelyne Brock at St. Peter-le-Poer, on December 16th 1583; whilst Dorothy Withnall married Christopher Hubberton at St. Peters Cornhill on November 10th 1588. 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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