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This interesting surname is of Anglo-Norman French origin, and has two possible sources. Firstly, the surname may have been a nickname for a wise or thoughtful man, deriving from the Anglo-Norman French "counseil", consultation, deliberation, also counsel, advice (from the Latin "consilium", from "consulere", to consult). The creation of surnames from nicknames was a common practice in the Middle Ages, and many modern-day surnames derive from medieval nicknames referring to personal characteristics. Secondly, the surname may be from the Anglo-Norman French "councile", council, assembly (from the Latin "concilium", assembly, from the archaic verb "concalere", to call together, summon), and would have been an occupational name for a member of a royal council or, more probably, a manorial council. Job-descriptive surnames originally denoted the actual occupation of the namebearer, and later became hereditary. John Counseil is noted in the 1310 Calendar of Letter Books of Devonshire. In the modern idiom the surname can be found as Councel, Councell, Council, Counsel, Counsell and Consell. Recordings of the surname from London Church Registers include: the marriage of Godfrey Councell and Agnes Booker on September 29th 1609, at St. Andrew by the Wardrobe, and the marriage of Henry Counsell and Elizabeth Moore on October 26th 1618, at St. Katherine by the Tower. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Cunseil, which was dated 1208, in the "Pipe Rolls of Berkshire", during the reign of King John, known as "Lackland", 1199 - 1216. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

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