Recorded in England as Ishmail, Ismail, Ishmall, and possibly others, this is a very interesting surname. It is Hebrew in origin, Ismail being the son of the Prophet Abraham, but like such surnames as Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, it may not have been originally, and at least in England, Jewish. Most early Hebrew names were Crusader names. That is to say names brought back to Europe by returning knights and pilgrims from the various 12th century crusades, which attempted to free the Holy Land from the Muslim.All were unsuccessful, but names which became associated with either the Bible or the Crusades gradually superceeded the original 'native' names in most parts of Christendom. In addition the Jews were expelled from England by KIng Edward 1st in 1292 and were not allowed to return until 1655, in the 'reign' of Oliver Cromwell. With this surname the earliest example in the surviving registers of the city of London is belived to be that of Arthur Ismail, who with his wife Mary, was a christening witness at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on January 11th 1684.
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