This unusual and interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and derives from the Old English pre 7th Century female personal name 'Cwenhild', in Middle English 'Quenilla' and 'Quenilde'. The name is composed of the elements 'cwen', meaning 'woman', and 'hild', meaning 'battle' or 'war'. As a personal name it is first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 in Gloucestershire as 'Cvenild', and in circa 1160 as 'Quenilda', in Lincolnshire. The surname development includes Thomas Quenild (1275, Norfolk), Richard Quynel (1286, Yorkshire) and Thomas Quinild (1287, Wiltshire). The modern surname can be found in at least five different forms; Quennell, Quenell, Quinnell, Quinell and Gwinnell. The latter is dialectal and possibly the first recording in that spelling is Richard Gwinnell at St Martin Vintry, Croydon, on December 14th 1704. Others include John Gwinnel at St Leonards Church, Shoreditch, London on July 22nd 1789, in the reign of King George 111 (1760 - 1820). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Quenell, which was dated 1201, a charter witness in the Assize Rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King John, known as 'Lackland', 1199 - 1216. 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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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