The surname of MANSEL was a locational name 'of Le Mans' a spot in Normandy The name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1006. A locational name usually denoted where a man held his land, and indicated where he actually lived. The original bearer would take his name from the village, town or the area where he dwelt. This name would identify his whole family, and would follow them wherever they moved. Following the Crusades in Europe a need was felt for a family name. This was recognized by those of noble blood, who realised the prestige and practical advantage that it would add to their status. The name was also applied to a feudal tenant, an occupier of a manse, which was land sufficient to support a family. A family of this name trace their descent from Walter Mansel (born in 1166) who held lands in Little Missenden, Buckinghamshire. His son John rose to power as Lord High Justiciar of England and keeper of the Great Seal in 1246-8. Other records of the name mention Thomas le Mansell, 1273, County Buckinghamshire and John le Maunsel, was documented there in 1313. Henricus Maunselot was the rector of Gateshead, Newcastle in the year 1322. Alicia Maunsell of Yorkshire and Johannes Mauncell, were listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. During the Middle Ages, when people were unable to read or write, signs were needed for all visual identification. For several centuries city streets in Britain were filled with signs of all kinds, public houses, tradesmen and even private householders found them necessary. This was an age when there were no numbered houses, and an address was a descriptive phrase that made use of a convenient landmark. At this time, coats of arms came into being, for the practical reason that men went into battle heavily armed and were difficult to recognise. It became the custom for them to adorn their helmets with distinctive crests, and to paint their shields with animals and the like. Coats of arms accompanied the development of surnames, becoming hereditary in the same way. The associated arms are recorded in Sir Bernard Burkes General Armory. Ulster King of Arms in 1884.
Registered at Margam, County Glamorgan.
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