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Magel Coat of Arms / Magel Family Crest

Magel Coat of Arms / Magel Family Crest

This French, Spanish and Portugese name of MAGEL was a nickname for a thin person, originally derived from the Old French word MAIGRE, and rendered in medieval documents in the Latin form MACER (delicate). Surnames having a derivation from nicknames form the broadest and most miscellaneous class of surnames, encompassing many different types of origin. The most typical classes refer adjectivally to the general physical aspect of the person concerned, or to his character. Many nicknames refer to a man's size or height, while others make reference to a favoured article of clothing or style of dress. Many surnames derived from the names of animals and birds. In the Middle Ages ideas were held about the characters of other living creatures, based on observation, and these associations were reflected and reinforced by large bodies of folk tales featuring animals behaving as humans. The name has numerous variant spellings which include MAGELLAN, MAIGRE, MAGRE, LEMAIGRE, MEGAR, MAGER, MAGRON and MAGRONI, to name but a few. It was not until the 10th century that modern hereditary surnames first developed, and the use of fixed names spread, first to France, and then England, then to Germany and all of Europe. In these parts of Europe, the individual man was becoming more important, commerce was increasing and the exact identification of each man was becoming a necessity. Even today however, the Church does not recognise surnames. Baptisms and marriages are performed through use of the Christian name alone. Thus hereditary names as we know them today developed gradually during the 11th to the 15th century in the various European countries. A notable member of the name was Ferdinand MAGELLAN (circa.1480-1521), the navigator, born in Sabrosa or Porto, Portugal. After serving in the East Indies and Morocco, he offered his services to Spain. He sailed from Seville in 1519 around the foot of South America (Cape of the Virgins) to reach the ocean which he named the Pacific. He was killed in the Phillipines, but his ships continued back to Spain (1522) thus completing the first circumnavigation of the world. The Strait of MAGELLAN is named after him.


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Last Updated: Dec. 1st, 2021

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