The surname of MATCHEL was a nickname, originally 'le Machel' or Manchell meaning 'bad-whelp'. The name was Latinized as Malus-Catulus. 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. Early records of the name mention Halthe le Machel, who was recorded in Lancashire in 1085, and Humfrey le Machel appears in 1100 in Yorkshire. William Malus Catulus appears in 1179 and William Machel was documented in 1206. 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.
Later instances of the name mention Elizabeth Machell who was buried at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1606, and John Machell of County Surrey, registered at Oxford University in the year 1619. William Machell and Elizabeth Allen were married at St. George's, Hanover Square, London in 1798.
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