This is a European medieval surname of Crusader, but ultimately biblical origins. Deriving from the ancient Hebrew name "Micha-el" meaning "He who is like god", it was introduced from the Holy Land by returning warriors from the various Crusades commencing in the 12th century and which continued for several centuries with minimal success. During the period of the Christian Revival at this time, the name rapidly became established as firstly one of the most popular baptismal names, and within a generation as one of the early surnames. Part of this popularity was due to the conviction that the name was originally the warcry of the archangel, in his defeat of Satan! Over two hundred spellings have developed in every Christian county of the western hemisphere, and these spelllings include Michael (England), Michell and Mitchell (Scotland), Miell, Miall, Michel, Micheau, and Micheu (France), Michele and Micheli (Italy), Miguel ( Portugal & Spain), Miell and Michal (Poland), Michel (Hungary), with diminutives Michelet, Michelin (France), Misisch and Miscke (Germany), Michalik and Mielnik (Poland), Michaley (Czech), Miko (Hungary), and patronymics such as Michaelson, Mikkelsen, Mikhalkov, Michaeliewicz, and many, many, more. It was in England that the first recordings are to be found with Michaelis de Areci appearing in the Danelaw Rolls for the city of London, in 1160, although the first surname recording would seem to be in Scotland when Magister Michael appears in the register of Scone Abbey, in 1214. A notable early namebearer was Blaunpayn Michael, a Latin poet who flourished circa 1250, and was traditionally dean of Utrecht, in the Netherlands. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation, and throughout the centuries these have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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