Those of us blessed with this surname have spent years correcting its spelling and pronunciation. Our name doesn’t compute for most people. That may be because it’s not Anglo-Saxon.
The name seems to be Norman French. William the Conqueror landed in England in October 1066 – 946 years ago. Since the chances of our surviving to the thousand-year anniversary of this invasion in 2066 appear remote, let’s commemorate now.
The Conqueror spoke French, but he was descended from Vikings. The French called him a Norman, short for Northman, meaning Scandinavian.
One of William’s knights at the Battle of Hastings was a William Paganell. A history of the Normans mentions a “William Paganel [the spelling varies] lord of Montiers Hubert which is supposed to have been the original seat of this ancient family . . . .” Ordericus Vitalis, The Ecclesiastical History of England and Normandy, Volume 2, p. 427. You can vacation even now in Normandy at Montiers Hubert.
The name gradually changed to Pagnell, then Paynell, and then Pannell. P. H. Reaney’s book A Dictionary of British Surnames (London 1958), gives variants: “Paynell, Panal, Panell, Pannell, Pennell.”
Reaney traces the name from Radulfus Pagenel or Paganellus in the Domesday Book (1086). He traces it from Old French Payenel. The derivation is Latin “paganus,” meaning “rustic” but by medieval times the name meant “heathen” – apparently the man named was not a Christian.
A website about the untitled British nobility lists “Paynell Families of Moutiers-Hubert (Normandy), Drax and Hooton (Yorkshire).” The source asserts that William Paynell and his younger brother Ralph fought the English at Hastings. http://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/ENGLISHNOBILITYMEDIEVAL3P-S.htm#_Toc321390336
Most of the Paganels and Paynells held lands in Yorkshire. But somehow the name became attached to the southern village of Littleton Panell in Wiltshire. The village appears in the Domesday Book, the Conqueror’s inventory of English lands, in 1086. The settlement contained 25 households.
The village still exists, and we stopped there in 1984.
A Pagnell Lane and a Pagnell Cottage remain in today’s Littleton Panell. Sorting through some old slides, I came across these pictures I had taken of the village in 1984.
Is the name Pannill, with emphasis on the first syllable, also the name of the village?
I walked into the pub in the village and asked the bartender, “How do you say the name of this place?” Littleton PA-nel, he said. Maybe our DNA goes back to this spot.
5 Responses to Where does the name ‘Pannill’ emerge from?
My name is Larry Panell. We descend from the Pannells of Virginia and I have spent years trying to complete some type of chart of the family’s lineage. Each time I get foiled because information conflicts or dates and names get crossed. It remains a great hobby and I hope to find more solid evidence at some point but until then I just continue to search.
Are you on Ancestry? The family trees — based on hearsay often — are not scientific and can be wrong, but it will get you organized. WmPannill
I have used multiple websites and have spent time in archives and libraries gathering info. I’m also in contact with several others researching the line. Apparently our line follows a number of individuals that wander off. I’ve found that this is not unusual. I recently tracked down an Uncle who disappeared for nearly 50 years.
Thank you for the good reading! I am so used to seeing “sloppy copy,” where people pass on faulty material without cross referencing… This post was a refreshing change. One large gap in the family tree is just how we made it to Ireland. Unfortunately, thanks to the bloody IRA burning down the hall of records in Belfast, records are sparse. My kin were from Bushmills, up in Antrim and came to America in the 1810’s. They either originally came from western Scotland or from Devonshire (the Pennal family of Dublin and Waterford are of that ilk.) in the late 16th or early 17th century. The name variations are the source of a great many headaches. Due to regional pronunciation and improvisational spelling, I have seen it rendered Pannal, Pennel and Pennal all on one deed! It’s even rendered Parnell by the descendants of the Cheshire Branch who emigrated to Ireland. Accents played hob with the name as well. (Guillaume de Paganel’s children had lands in Yorkshire, Nottingham, Lincolnshire, Buckinghamshire, Norfolk, Normandy, and Devonshire, not to mention the later branches in Ireland, Scotland, the Channel Islands and America.) I love learning about the family history, and sharing what I have learned…
I’m delighted you enjoyed the post. I’ve had difficulty proving the transition from Paqanel to Pannill and, of course, Pannell. There are Pinnels as well. Littleton Panell is my best try so far.