Recorded in many forms including Machel, Matchell, Matsell, Mitchel, Mitchell, Michell and others, this is an surname of English and Scottish origins. Intoruduced into Western Europe by returning knights and pilgrims of the famous Crusades to free the Holy Land, it derives from the medieval Hebrew and Biblical name "Michel", meaning "He who is like the Lord". The name is first recorded in circa 1160, when one Michaelis de Areci appears in the Danelaw Documents of the city of London, and Michel de Whepstede in the Subsidy Tax rolls of Suffolk in 1327.The Royal Registers of England for the year 1219 have the entry of William Michel. He was paid three pence per day, probably now equivalent to 50 or $80, for keeping two of the Kings' wolfhounds. Later examples include Agnes Mitchell who married Richard Freeman on June 24th 1582, at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, city of London, whilst Fanny Matsell married George Phillips, at St Leaonards Shoreditch, on August 13th 1792. A coat of arms associated with the surname has the blazon of a black shield, charged with an escallop between three gold birds' heads erased. The first recorded spelling of the family name may be that of Gilbert Michel. This was dated 1205, in the Curia Regis Rolls of Northumberland, during the reign of King John of England, 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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