The surname of FENNELL was derived from the Gaelic O'Fionnghail - a name meaning 'one of fair valour'. The name has been in Ireland since the 14th century. It was originally an English occupational name 'the vennell' one who grew the plant so called for its use in sauces. Occasionally the name was locational meaning 'one who lived at the small street or passage' . Local names usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived.
Early records of the name mention Thomas in Venello who was listed in the Hundred Rolls in 1273. William Fenigle, was documented in the year 1227 in the County of Sussex. Alexander in Venella was recorded in County Oxford in 1273. Simon Venell was a priest in County Rutland in the year 1592. Since the dawn of civilisation the need to communicate has been a prime drive of all higher mankind. The more organised the social structure became, the more urgent the need to name places, objects and situations essential to the survival and existence of the social unit. From this common stem arose the requirements to identify families, tribes and individual members evolving into a pattern in evidence today. In the formation of this history, common usage of customs, trades, locations, patronymic and generic terms were often adopted as surnames. The demands of bureaucracy formally introduced by feudal lords in the 11th century, to define the boundaries and families within their fiefdoms, crystallized the need for personal identification and accountability, and surnames became in general use from this time onwards.
At first the coat of arms was a practical matter which served a function on the battlefield and in tournaments. With his helmet covering his face, and armour encasing the knight from head to foot, the only means of identification for his followers, was the insignia painted on his shield and embroidered on his surcoat, the flowing and draped garment worn over the armour. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884. Registered in the year of 1663.
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