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An Anglo-Saxon surname?

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Version 2 2022-12-14, 12:41
Version 1 2022-12-09, 18:01
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posted on 2022-12-14, 12:41 authored by Woruldhord Project Team

It seems likely that the surname Chessell arose from a place-name originally meaning ‘chest hill’. At least two places in England at one time were known as Chesthill or variations on that name in accordance with Old English (Anglo-Saxon) spellings of the words for ‘chest’ or ‘coffin’ (ciest) and ‘hill’ (hyll). One of these places was on the Isle of Wight in Hampshire. The prefix chest- with its meaning of ‘chest’ or ‘coffin’ comes close to the name Chessell as it altered over the centuries from Chesthull to Chessell, as we can see from documents from the Isle of Wight. The suffix –ell or –ill appears to derive from OE hyll meaning ‘hill’. On the Isle of Wight you can still find the name of Chessell Farm on some maps and if you go to the vicinity you can find Chessell Down where Anglo-Saxon burial treasure has been found. The earliest records have the name spelt Chestelone (1250), Cheshulle (1280), Chestele in 1287, Chesthull in 1314, Chestyll 1483 and Chessell in 1556. Just what the name Chestelone refers to I am not sure but possibly it is an abbreviation for Chestel Down. "Chessell is extremely important and many of its finds are in the British Museum and an overview of the evidence from both sites has been produced by Arnold (1982). Chessell contained over 130 graves originally discovered by marl diggers of late 5th and 6th Century pagan graves with a collection of rich and exotic grave goods which were acquired by the British Museum. An additional grave was discovered near Chessell which contained a sword, spear and beads (SMR 405)." ( of Wight early med.pdf) I can only reliably trace my Chessell/Chissell ancestors back to Westbourne, West Sussex in the late 17th century but given the distribution of the name on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and West Sussex for the past few centuries I make an assumption that it is from the Isle of Wight that my surname originates. I attach a photo of myself and my daughter taken in 1993 on the Isle of Wight at Chessell Plantation. Some references: 354 HANTS. A.D. 1428. Thomas Depdene tenet ij partes f.m. in SHALDEFLETE et CHESTELL, quod Johannes Spershet quondam tenuit. 367 HANTS. A.D. 1431. Thomas Depdeen de Shaldeflet, gentilman, seisitus fuit, ut de libero tenemento, dicto die Veneris, de iij. partibus j.f.m. in SHALDEFLET et CHESTHULL in ínsula predicta


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