This interesting name, with variant spellings Perceval, Percifull, Purcifer and Passifull, derives from the male given name Perceval, first recorded as the name of the hero of an epic poem by the 12th Century French poet Chretien de Troyes, describing the quest for the holy grail or chalice. The name is fancifully taken from the French elements "percer", to pierce or breach, plus "val", a valley, hence "pierce the valley", a nickname presumably given to a keen poacher or soldier remembered for his breach of a fortification. The exact origin of the name is uncertain; however, the most likely source is the Celtic "Peredur" from the Old Welsh meaning "warrior of the cauldron". This name was borne by a Welsh legendary hero of the Middle Ages and the cognate Old Welsh "Pair-cyfall" means "warrior of the Chalice". Early recordings of the surname in England incluce: Roger Perceval (Somerset, 1286); John Persval (Cornwall, 1297); and John Percival (London, 1372). Occasionally, the name may be of French locational origin from Perc(h)eval in Calvados, Normandy, as in Richard de Percevill (Staffordshire, 1203). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Percevall, which was dated 1229, in the "Calendar of the Close Rolls", Shropshire, during the reign of King Henry 111, known as "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.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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