This Anglo-Norman family of PORCELL is one of those which became completely hibernicized. They distinguished themselves in the wars of the 17th century and later as Wild Geese, (a term applied to Irish exiles to the Continent of Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Originally denoting those who became soldiers in continental armies it was later extended to refer to their descendants.) The name was originally derived from the Old English word 'Porcel'. Early records of the name mention Reyner Porcel, 1273, County Salop. Agnes Purcel of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. Baptised. Sarah, daughter of Joseph Purcell, at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in 1633. William Pursell (aged 26) left for Virginia, United States of America in 1635. (Hotten's list of Emigrants). Hereditary surnames were originally imported from France into England during the Norman Conquest of 1066. In the two centuries or so after the Conquest surnames were acquired by most families of major landholders, and many landed families of lesser importance. There appears to have been a constant trickle of migration into Britain between about the years 1200 and 150O, mostly from France and the Low Countries, with a small number of migrants from Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the Iberian peninsular, and occasional individuals from further afield. During this period groups of aliens settled in this country as for example, the Germans who from the late 15th century onwards settled in Cumbria to work the metal mines. Immigration during this time had only a small effect on the body of surnames used in Britain. In many cases, the surnames of immigrants were thoroughly Anglicised. The late sixteenth century saw the arrival, mostly in London and the south-coast ports of large numbers of people fleeing from the war regions of France. 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.
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