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SNELL Family History

This interesting and unusual surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is derived from a nickname for a brisk or active person, from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "snell", quick, lively, in part representing a survival of the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Snell", similar to the Old Norse "Snjallr". Snell is an example of that sizeable group of early European surnames that were gradually created from the habitual use of nicknames. The nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal or bird's appearance or disposition, habits of dress and occupation...

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