This surname of OVERNELL was of the locational group of surnames meaning 'the dweller at the upperhall' from residence in the dwelling which was over the hill. The name was derived from the Old English word OUERAL. Habitation names, which are by far the largest group, usually denoted where the original bearer of the name held his land, and where he actually lived. These local surnames derive (with a few occasional exceptions) from English, Scottish or French places, and were originally preceded by a preposition such as 'atte' or 'bye'. The earliest local surnames of French origin are chiefly from Normandy, particularly from the departments of Calvados, Eure, Seine-Inferieure and La Manche, although some Frenchmen, arriving in England early acquired surnames from English places. Local names may derive from the manor held, the place of residence, and occasionally from a sign like an Inn or Tavern, or a particularly unusual shape of rock, hill, tree, stream or river. The earliest of the name on record appears to be William Oueral who was documented in 1217 in County Yorkshire, and William del Overnal appears in Wakefield, Yorkshire in 1316. Later instances of the name include Thomas Overnell who was recorded in 1632 in County Suffolk, and Thomas Overill appears in the same place in 1674. The bulk of European surnames in countries such as England and France were formed in the 13th and 14th centuries. The process started earlier and continued in some places into the 19th century, but the norm is that in the 11th century people did not have surnames, whereas by the 15th century they did.
The name has numerous variant spellings which include Overal, Overall, Overell, Overill and Overhall.
The arms depicted here have been per-paled from the names OVER and NELL.
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