Recorded in several forms including Penell, Pennell, Peniall, Penniall, Penniell, Pernell, and the plural Pennells, this is an English surname, but which in some cases may have an ultimate French origin. According to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley, it has two possible origins, both from personal names but we would add a third that it is locational. The first origin is a metronymic from the female name of Petronella, popular in the Middle Ages. This was a name which was either introduced by the Normans after the Conquest of 1066, or possibly by the Crusaders returning from the Holy Land in the 12th century. The second is as a diminutive of the pre 7th century Olde English name Payne, to give Payn-el, whilst the third option is locational either from Penheale, a village in Cornwall or from Penn Hall formerly Penehull, in the county of Worcester. In this case Alredus de Penhull is recorded in the Assize Rolls of Worcester in the year 1221, when it appears that he may not have paid his taxes. This is clearly a locational recording, but that of William Pennel, recorded in Colchester, Essex in 1377, suggests a development from a personal name. Other early recordings include Anne Pennyale at St Margarets, West minster, in 1571, Thomas Pernell of St Columb Major in Cornwall in 1580, Elizabeth Penniall who married Robert Wood at St Margarets, Westminster in 1640, and Samuel Pennell, at St Mary Aldermanry, in the city of London in 1671.

Surnames reference. 2013.

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