It is most probable that this interesting name is of Welsh origin, a patronymic, (son of) from the given name Ithael (ab Ithel) which means "Bountiful Lord" and by dialectual transposition took the form of its present spelling. However it is also thought that the name originates in England as the diminutive of "Beth" from the female name Elizabeth. In the modern idiom, the spellings include Bithell, Bettles, Bethel. One notable Bethell, listed in "The National Biography is Christopher Bethel (1773 - 1859), Bishop of Bangor, Gloucester and Exeter, who also published theological works. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Stephen Bethell, which was dated 1273, in the Pipe Rolls of Somerset, during the reign of King Edward 1, known as the Hammer of the Scots, 1272 - 1307. 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.